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Home Tips | 9 Posts

Are You Missing These Spots When Cleaning Your Home?

Houma Home Cleaning Tips

While looking at Houma open houses, the houses you view are always spotless. They have to be to make them more appealing to potential buyers. But wouldn't it be nice if, once you find the right house and move into it, you could keep it that clean all the time? You vacuum, mop, and dust regularly, but after a while, the luster still fades. Part of that may simply be because there are areas you're overlooking. Here are some of the most commonly missed spots when cleaning.

  • Vents and Registers
    Your air vents can get very dusty. That dust then gets blown into your home as your A/C or furnace runs. Once a year, remove the grates from each of your vents and wash them gently with warm, soapy water. Let them dry, and replace them. Not only will your vents be cleaner, but there will also be less dust in your home in general.

  • Baseboards
    Being so low to the ground, you don't look at or think about them much, which means they can end up pretty dirty. Use your vacuum brush attachment to get rid of the dust, then wipe them down with a mixture of warm water and vinegar.

  • Tops of Cabinets and Ceiling Fans
    These areas you don't think about because they're too high to see, but the dust that gathers there can spread through the house. A microfiber dust mop with a long handle and flexible head should be able to reach them, but it's also a good idea to get up there with a stepladder periodically to make sure they're getting clean. A simple wipe-down should be enough if you're cleaning regularly, but if it's been a while, you may need to use a mild cleaning solution to remove caked-on grime.

  • Behind the Refrigerator
    Pulling your fridge out to clean behind it can be a pain, but it may also save you money. When dust gathers on the condenser coil, it runs less efficiently. By cleaning there regularly, you can lower your energy bills. Unplug the refrigerator first (it will stay cold for up to four hours without power, as long as you keep the doors closed), and don't attempt to move it without help.

  • Garbage Disposal
    You clean your sink regularly, but how often do you clean the disposal? A bit of ice and some baking soda, run through the disposal once a month, will keep the blades clean and sharp and eliminate bad odors. You can also put lemon peels down there for a fresh, citrusy smell.

  • Stove and Oven
    In addition to wiping down spills around your stove, it's also important to clean the actual burners periodically. Remove any removable parts and wash them with warm, soapy water, then wipe down the burner area with a damp cloth and some cleaning solution. Before cleaning your oven, however, check to see if it has a self-cleaning function. If so, scrubbing it by hand can damage the self-cleaning coating. Instead, put it through the cleaning cycle, which will burn off any food residue. When it's done, give it a light wipe with a microfiber cloth.

All that cleaning may seem tedious, but it's worth it to keep your dream home looking pretty and new. Our Realtors® can help you find Houma homes for sale that will meet your needs. Contact us to find the house that's right for you.


Home Improvement Projects You Still Have Time to Tackle in 2022

Houma Home Improvement

Are you looking for ways to spruce up your home? Whether you have thousands to spend or you're on a tight budget, our Realtors® can recommend a variety of DIY home improvement projects that will make a lasting impression.

Take a look at ten budget-friendly home improvement projects that you can easily tackle before 2022 is over.

  1. Paint the Front Door
    Louisiana weather can cause your front door to look dingy and faded over time, but you can fix that with a fresh coat of paint. Choose a bright color that makes a good first impression, and buy a semi-gloss paint that's durable and easy to clean.

  1. Install Home Security
    For extra security, install a smart lock on your front door and a security camera near your home's entrance, so you can see who's at the front door. Some smart locks include cameras that can be viewed by your smartphone whether you're home or not.

  1. Upgrade Exterior Light Fixtures
    You can give your home's exterior a low-cost facelift just by upgrading outside light fixtures. Consider a new porch light, walkway lights, and accent lights for your landscaping. Solar lights will cost less because they don't require wiring, but they may not be as bright.

  1. Pressure Wash Your Driveway
    If you don't own a pressure washer, go get one. They cost less than $50 and can be used to clean driveways, walkways, porches, decks, and even siding and windows. With little effort, you can wash away dirt and grime and make your home sparkling clean.

  1. Lay Low-Cost Flooring
    Many older homes have outdated 12x12-inch vinyl tiles in entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms. By replacing old vinyl tiles with laminated wood planks, ceramic or porcelain tiles, or stone pavers, you can bring an older home into the 21st century with style.

  1. Add a Runner to Stairs
    If you have a two-story home with a staircase made of wood steps, adding a runner will increase fall safety and interior style. To keep the budget down, look for off-the-shelf woven runners and supplies from a local home improvement center.

  1. Install a New Dishwasher
    An old dishwasher can wreak havoc on your electric and water bills. By installing a Star-rated energy-efficient dishwasher, you can save about $50 a year on power and 500 gallons of water. If you're washing your dishes in the sink, you're using 40% more water with every wash.

  1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets
    Dark wood cabinets can make your kitchen feel smaller and outdated. Instead of spending thousands on new cabinets, give your cabinets a fresh new appeal with paint. All you need is a cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease to let in the light.

  1. Upgrade Your Hardware
    Installing new fixtures and hardware in your kitchen and bathrooms is a quick way to increase design appeal. Replace your old sink and shower fixtures and cabinet pulls with shiny new chrome, brass, or bronze ones that update style and convenience.

  2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
    If your home still has an old-fashioned dial thermostat, it's time for an upgrade. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install with a drill and a screwdriver. You can program your thermostat to adjust the heat and cool settings based on your daily activities and sleep schedules.

If you're considering Houma homes for sale or nearby communities, we can help you find the perfect place to call home. Contact us today.


7 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Holiday Home Selling Tips

With the winter months quickly approaching, you may wonder if it's possible to sell your home during the holiday season. Selling a home during the holidays is possible and even has a few advantages over selling at other times of the year, including less competition from other properties and homebuyers that tend to be more serious about buying a home. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips when selling your home this holiday season. 

  1. Price Your Home Competitively
    Pricing your home appropriately is one of the most effective strategies for selling your home quickly around the holiday season. Instead of pricing your home high to "test the waters" and then having to reduce the price, start with a more competitive price. 
  1. Create a Video Tour of Your Home
    A busy calendar and less free time may mean that homebuyers are less likely to venture out and explore Lafayette homes for sale. Make sure that you take the time to create a thorough video tour of your home. This allows potential buyers to explore your home's spaces and features when it's convenient for their schedule.
  1. Embrace the Coziness of the Holiday Season
    See that your home feels like a cheery, inviting haven for homebuyers. Consider lighting a fire, playing soft music, and using staging to fashion spaces that appear intimate and homey on a brisk winter day. 
  1. Focus on Curb Appeal
    Maximize your home's curb appeal so that it creates a favorable first impression with homebuyers. If buyers are deciding whether to make time for exploring Lafayette open houses, a home that looks appealing from the exterior is more likely to attract their interest. Touch up any cracked or damaged paint, clean your gutters, remove dead vegetation, and rake up your leaves. Add a doormat, wreath, and potted plant to your entryway so that it looks welcoming. 
  1. Decorate with Classic Holiday Decor
    It's fine, and even encouraged, to decorate for the holidays, but you want your decor to appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. You also want to see that your decorations enhance your home's features. If you have a gorgeous arch or lovely fireplace mantle, garland is a terrific way to highlight these features. Setting up a Christmas tree is a fast, simple way to add holiday cheer to your home's living room. Stick with classic white lights and coordinating ornaments; keep overly personal decorations in storage, as they can make it difficult for prospective buyers to envision themselves in your home. 
  1. Have a Plan for Keeping Your Home Looking Its Best
    During the busy holiday season, keeping your home ready for impromptu showings can be a little tricky. This makes it essential to have a plan for quickly tidying up your home. Consider having a plastic storage container where you can stow personal items, like shoes, coats, homework, and personal electronics so that they're out of sight. Make it a point to vacuum and sweep your home daily so you aren't trying to squeeze in a marathon cleaning session before the showing. 
  1. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent
    An experienced real estate agent understands the nuances of selling a home during the holidays. They'll assist you with marketing your home so that you're more likely to attract serious homebuyers who are ready to find a property. 

Following a few simple tips will make it easier and less stressful to sell your home during the holidays. Ready to list your home? Contact us to get started!


    Budget-Friendly Ways to Update Your Kitchen


    If you're looking to update your kitchen but think it would be costly and time-consuming, it may be easier than you think. There are several budget-friendly ways to update your kitchen that will not take long to achieve. They'll help quickly transform the room, so it's more attractive and pleasant to work in.

    Our Realtors® suggest the following kitchen updates that won't break the bank:

    • Add a Rug 
      Bring in a rug from another room to give your kitchen a nice dose of color, pattern, and texture. Neutral colors in just one or two variations create a subtle look, while using more colors in more vibrant hues creates a bolder look. This update couldn't be easier, and if you'd like a change, you can always choose another rug from your home or buy one.

    • Paint Your Cabinets
      Giving your kitchen cabinets a new coat of paint gives them a fresh, clean look. Remove the hardware (making sure to number them, so you'll know where everything goes) and clean and sand the cabinets' surfaces. Use two or three coats of self-priming paint, and if you'd like some variation, paint your upper and lower cabinets in contrasting colors.

    • Add Character With Artwork
      Use a poster, painting, or photo to add some color and character to your kitchen. This can be achieved with a large single piece, or you can add some smaller pieces on open shelves or above the kitchen cabinets.

    • Update Your Backsplash
      A dated, dingy tile backsplash can be easily addressed to help modernize and brighten your kitchen. Tile can be painted a bright color and then sealed. Or you can also use peel-and-stick tiles, which can be applied over your existing tile. It's simple to install and can help give your kitchen a more expensive appearance.

    • Swap Out Your Hardware
      Your kitchen hardware may be showing its age, so why not replace it for an easy update? Metal and glass are two popular options, but if you choose metal, use just one finish for everything. You can find a wide variety at a home improvement store, but if you want something more unique, try looking for handles, knobs, and pulls at a flea market.

    • Install New Lighting Fixtures
      New lighting fixtures can make your kitchen more attractive as well as more functional. Swap out your older lighting for brighter hanging lights in an interesting shape, size, and/or style to add more personality to your kitchen. You can also add lower hanging lights, sconces, and other types of lighting to brighten up dark areas of your kitchen, making meal prep easier.

    • Hang New Window Treatments
      A fresh window treatment can add style to your kitchen for under $100. Consider woven shades that can, if you'd like, be layered with drapery panels. Don't cover too much of the window, however, since you'll still want to let natural light shine in.

    • Add Molding
      If your kitchen lacks molding, adding it can add architectural interest to the room. It doesn't have to be complicated or fussy-looking since a simple piece of molding with a single shape, and single depth will achieve what you're looking for.

    Contact us if you're ready to find a new home and would like to see Lafayette homes for sale and visit Lafayette open houses. Our firm is the top real estate company in the Gulf South, and we have over a century of proven results. We'd be happy to help you find your new home in the area! 


    How to Avoid a Bad DIY Project

    DIY Projects

    The DIY approach is not only affordable but also gives you more control over your results. At various Baton Rouge open houses, we've seen some lovely DIY remodeling jobs and decor projects. So, how do you ensure your own DIY project goes well and yields beautiful results? Here are a few tips to help you avoid a bad DIY project.

    • Know What You're Capable Of
      It's okay to challenge yourself a little with a DIY project, but you don't want to take on something so outside of your abilities that you end up doing a poor job. Before you take on a project, make sure you have the tools necessary to complete it. Also, make sure you have the skills necessary or can learn them easily.

      A good rule of thumb is that plumbing, HVAC, and roofing work should always be left to the pros. These fields require licenses and certifications for a reason; they're technical, and mistakes can be costly.

    • Measure Twice, Cut Once
      Getting measurements wrong is one of the most common ways to mess up a DIY project. You don't want to cut an expensive piece of flooring or wallboard to the wrong size and have to start over!

      Those in the building industry use the phrase "measure twice, cut once." If you're someone who often makes mistakes with numbers, have a friend or family member check your work before you make the cuts.

    • Prepare Your Surfaces Properly
      This is a common mistake homeowners make when painting. If you're painting, make sure you sand and prime the surface first. If you're putting down a floor, make sure the subfloor is level. Or, perhaps you're re-staining a deck. If so, you'll want to sand down rough spots and remove any oily residue before applying the stain. 

      Usually, finishing products like paints and stains will tell you how to prepare your surface prior to application. Read and follow these instructions closely.

    • Use a Level
      When you walk into a Baton Rouge home for sale, you notice whether pictures are level and the furniture is sitting evenly. Of course, you want your own home to have this same balance. So, use a level when tackling any DIY project that involves hanging wall art, positioning furniture, and the like.

      If you don't have a physical level, there are level apps you can download to your smartphone.

    • Have Your Paint Matched
      If you are painting something to match an already-painted surface, don't just go buy another gallon of paint you assume is the same color. Instead, bring a sample of the old paint with you to the paint store. The technicians can match it, so you end up with the perfect match.

      Pay attention to paint finishes, not just color. If the surface you're trying to match has an eggshell finish, for example, your new paint needs to have an eggshell finish, too.

    • Use a Stud Finder
      So many DIY projects involve hanging or mounting things on the walls. When you do this, you need to make sure you're drilling into wall studs, not just into the drywall.

      There are a number of stud-finding tools you can purchase, and also some stud-finding apps for smartphones. Use them to locate wall studs so you can mount things to them securely.

    If you follow these tips, you should have better luck with all of your DIY projects. Contact us if you're still looking for a new home to live in. Our Realtors® can help find you a place worthy of your DIY efforts. 


    Your Guide to the Closing Process

    closing process tips

    Before you officially become a homeowner, the closing process is one of the last steps in the purchase process. Our real estate agents recommend that homebuyers understand what the closing process consists of so that they know what to expect. Here's what you need to know. 

    • Closing is When the Property Officially Becomes Your New Home
      Closing is the portion of the home purchasing process where ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer. After checking out Baton Rouge homes for sale, you'll make an offer to the seller. While you'll likely include earnest money with your offer to purchase the home, the home isn't officially yours until you close on the property. It usually takes between four to six weeks to close on the purchase of a home, though the process can take longer if an issue arises. For example, if the property doesn't appraise for the necessary amount, this may slow the purchase down. Or, if the home inspection returns with a lot of issues, it may take time for the buyer and seller to resolve this problem. 
    • Your Closing Date is Included in Your Home Offer
      A property's closing date is included in the home offer that the buyer and seller ultimately agree to. It's customary for the buyer to propose the initial closing date, but the seller can propose a different closing date if desired. Some sellers may prefer a quick or prolonged period before they close on the home to better suit their own homebuying needs. During Baton Rouge open houses, home sellers may advertise their willingness to agree to a fast or extended closing period. 
    • You Need to Complete Certain Tasks to Close on a Home
      Before your closing date, you need to confirm that certain tasks have been completed. Your mortgage lender will require an appraisal to confirm that they can fund the mortgage for the home. If the property's appraisal falls short, you'll need to renegotiate the deal with the seller or potentially make a larger down payment. A home inspection is highly recommended to make sure that the home doesn't have any expensive problems. Your lender will require you to submit forms verifying your assets and income to approve and fund your home loan. You'll also need to purchase homeowner's insurance for the property. Before your closing date, you'll complete a final walkthrough to confirm that the property is in the expected condition before your actual closing appointment. If you notice any issue with the home, you'll need to let your real estate agent know immediately. 
    • Closing Requires a Lot of Paperwork
      There's a lot of paperwork required to purchase a home; you can expect to sign between 50 and 100 pages during your closing session. Take the time to go through each document so that you understand what you're signing and that the forms are consistent with what you're expecting. You'll also bring money to the closing appointment (usually in the form of a certified check or a wire transfer) to cover your down payment and closing costs. About three business days before your closing appointment, you'll receive a Closing Disclosure that details your closing costs and states who is paying for each item. 

    Ready to begin your home search? Contact us today to get started!


    National Homeownership Month: 5 Reasons to Celebrate Homeownership


    National Homeownership Month, which is recognized every year in June, is the perfect time to reflect on the meaning of owning a home and the benefits of this investment. Our real estate agents appreciate the value of homeownership, and we've put together 5 reasons to celebrate homeownership this June. Whether you're shopping for New Orleans homes for sale for the first time or are transitioning to a new home, here are a couple of the many reasons to celebrate homeownership.

    1. A Valuable Long-Term Investment
      For so many homeowners, owning a home is one of the most valuable financial investments that you can make in life. While not every home follows the same template, in many cases, a home is an asset that only increases in value over time. That's true because real estate in many markets tends to increase in value over time and also because you continue to build increased equity in your home as you pay down your mortgage. Add it all up, and it's no surprise that so many homeowners are happy with the investment that they've made in their home.

    2. The Freedom to Customize Your Living Space
      When you rent from a landlord or larger company, you typically have very few options for customizing your living space. Sure, you can hang new pictures or purchase new furniture, but making any substantial changes to your living space won't be allowed. Homeownership features no such drawbacks and allows you to unlock your creativity. Whether that means building a new addition to the home to accommodate a growing family, renovating your kitchen, customizing your yard, or just changing paint colors, it's great to have the freedom to customize your home.

    3. Simplifying Your Financial Planning
      For the vast majority of homeowners, owning a home means making a monthly mortgage payment. However, when your rate is locked in, your mortgage payment is the same every month, which makes it much easier to create a consistent budget and plan for your financial future. Compare that to renting a home or apartment, when rent payments can rise at the end of every lease term. Financial planning is simplified when you don't have to factor in the ever-present possibility of increased rent costs.

    4. A Hybrid Home and Workplace
      More than ever, employees in nearly every industry are working from home or working a hybrid schedule. When you own a home, it's so much easier to create a workspace where you can be productive and enjoy your working hours. If you've always dreamed of having your own dedicated office for working from home, homeownership helps you accomplish that goal.

    5. Create Memories That Last a Lifetime
      While the financial benefits of owning a home are important, they're far from the only factor. Owning a home means having a place where you can create the sort of memories that last a lifetime, from decorating a room for your first child to the many family dinners, social gatherings, and fun experiences that follow. Think of the home you grew up in and all of the memories that are tied to that specific place. For many of us, no place holds more personal or emotional significance than home.

    Find your next home at our New Orleans open houses, or get in touch with our team to learn all of the ways that we can help you sell your current home. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the New Orleans, LA area.


    Increase Storage Space With These Tips

    Storage Space Tips

    Storage space makes a big difference in your home! Maybe you're staging a home and want to show off all the storage it can offer. Or maybe you'd like more storage so you can be more organized. In any case, there are plenty of options for adding more storage space to your home. Our real estate agents point out these areas where you can increase your storage space.

    • Add Upper Shelves to Closets
      Is the space at the top of your closets going unused? Add a shelf about 12 - 18 inches from the ceiling. You can use this shelf to hold baskets, which you can fill with smaller items like purses, belts, sunglasses, and umbrellas. This will free up more space in the lower levels of your closet and get all of these small, cluttery items out of your way.

    • Put Hooks on the Sides of Cabinets
      Are the ends of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets exposed? Take advantage of this extra space by screwing some hooks into the exposed ends. In the kitchen, you can use these hooks to hang measuring cups and spoons, your shopping bags, or even your extra hand towels. In the bathroom, such hooks can be a great place to park your bathrobe, towel, scrub brushes, and other bathing accessories.

    • Buy a Storage Bench for Your Entryway
      In many homes, the entryway is the place where clutter tends to stack up first. Consider buying a storage bench to add to your entryway. Look for a padded one so it can double as a seat. Most storage benches have lids on hinges, which you can fold up to access the interior of the bench. Inside, you can store your hats, gloves, and other winter apparel, especially during the warm season when you're not using it.

    • Put Storage Shelving Under Your Sinks
      The cabinets under sinks tend to get cluttered with old sponges, half-empty bottles of cleaner, and worn-out scrub brushes. If you put a small storage shelving unit inside this cabinet, you'll be better able to see and access all of the items stored there. This will make it easier to find what you need and call attention to worn-out items that need to be thrown away.

    • Mount Old Cabinets in Your Garage
      Are you remodeling your kitchen or bathroom? Instead of throwing away the old cabinets, have them installed on the wall of your garage. They don't have to look perfect to hold your sporting goods, gardening supplies, and tools. You can even add some hooks inside a few of the cabinets, making it easier to hang up tools and cleaning cloths.

    • Add a Magnetic Strip to Your Bathroom Cabinet
      You can find stock-on magnetic strips at many home goods stores. Buy one of these, and mount it inside your bathroom cabinet. It will be a convenient place to store bobby pins, hair clips, nail trimmers, and other hygiene tools that would otherwise end up scattered about and lost.

    • Purchase Under-Bed Storage Boxes
      Visit a home goods store, and look for some flat, under-bed storage boxes. You can use these to store off-season clothing, holiday decorations, spare bedding, and anything else that's getting in the way inside your closets.

    With these ideas, you can create more storage space inside almost any home. If you're still looking for the perfect house to call your home, feel free to contact us. We'll guide you through the process of finding Lake Charles homes for sale and attending Lake Charles open houses


    Fresh Ideas for Your Kitchen Island

    Kitchen Island

    Looking at Baton Rouge open houses, one thing that tends to stand out in homes is the kitchen island. It's a great way to maximize efficiency and improve both your kitchen's aesthetic and functionality. What's more, once you've bought the home, there are all sorts of ways to customize the kitchen island to fit your own needs. Here are a few ideas to consider.

    • Transparent Cabinet Doors
      If you have a lot of cookware, a kitchen island provides plenty of extra storage space. However, finding a specific pot or pan amid all of those full cabinets can be a difficult proposition. You may open three or four different doors before you find the cabinet that has what you're looking for. Glass cabinet doors, surrounded by wood trim, let you view your storage area at a glance, so you can find what you're looking for more easily.

    • Make it Portable
      If your new kitchen doesn't have room for a kitchen island, you can make a small, portable one that will serve your needs in a pinch. Customize a kitchen cart to serve as convenient island storage, or use an old table, adding an extra shelf or two below the tabletop. Give it a coat of paint, add a kitchen towel rack on the side, and put your essentials, such as cookbooks or your most-used cooking pans, on the shelves below. On the top shelf, put your coffee pot, microwave, stand mixer, or other small, frequently used appliances for easy access. Since it's portable, you can position the island wherever you want, moving it around the kitchen to suit your needs.

    • Adjustable Size
      A small leaf on one side of the island gives you more surface area when you need it. Whether you've got a big cooking job and need more counter space or are having breakfast and need space for an extra person to sit around it, you can raise the leaf to give you extra room. Then when you're done, collapse it again so it doesn't get in the way.

    • Cutting Board Drawer
      Another way to maximize space efficiency is by adding a slot beneath the countertop for a cutting board. A sturdy wood cutting board pulls out like a drawer, giving you extra space to do your prep work when the countertop is a bit crowded. Then when you're done, slide it back in the slot for easy storage.

    • Hooks
      Many kitchens have a large container sitting on the counter to hold cooking utensils, such as spoons and spatulae. Not only do these take up a lot of room, but the containers can also get crowded quickly, making it difficult to get the specific utensil you're looking for. Instead, add a few metal hooks on either side of the island, from which to hang your utensils. They're within easy reach when you need them, without taking up space.

    • Lighting
      You need two different types of light above your kitchen island: soft, ambient lighting for when you're sitting around the island dining or socializing and brighter, task lighting for when you're working at the counter. A bank of smart LED lights can provide you with both, allowing you to adjust the brightness up or down as needed. 

    If you're interested in buying a new home, our real estate agents can help you through every step of the process. There are plenty of Baton Rouge homes for sale that can meet your needs. Contact us to find the best one for you!


    Should You Steam Clean Before a Showing?

    Steam Cleaning Tips

    When selling your home, you need to make sure your home is ready for the market. While other activities like making repairs and updates are important, cleaning is the essential and cheapest step in getting your home ready. Besides killing germs, allergens, and pet odors, steam cleaning also helps make your home appear (and smell) new again. Our real estate agents know that a clean home makes a great first impression when potential buyers come to visit. If you're considering steam cleaning before your next showing, keep in mind these things.

    • Buyers Will Notice Your Flooring
      Chances are you don't pay much attention to your flooring at the moment. But potential buyers certainly will. The first impression a potential homebuyer gets about your home significantly contributes to their purchasing decision. If your carpet or floors appear stained or discolored, your potential buyers will notice, and that could negatively affect their first impression.

      A popular belief is that steam cleaners are only ideal for carpeted flooring. However, you can use a steam cleaner for your floors. A steam cleaner is highly effective, especially for hard-to-access corners around your house

    • Steam Cleaning is a Cost-Effective Option
      You would like your home to attract a potential buyer, but what do you do when you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to replace the carpet? Steam clean it. Steam cleaning changes the look of your carpet, making it appear new.

      It maximizes the value of your home while minimizing expenses. Besides, it helps eliminate the need to get a new carpet since steam cleaning helps achieve the same objective.

    • Helpful When Repainting Your Home
      As you prepare your home for sale, ensure the house is well painted. If a year has gone by since you last painted your home, the house might need some touching up. Repainting or touching up paint can help make your home appear new.

      If you have wallpaper that you need to remove before painting, you can remove it using a steam cleaner. Some wallpapers use glue that comes off with paint, forcing you to repaint the entire wall. Using a steam cleaner helps you remove wallpaper quickly and effectively without damaging the wall.

    • Say Goodbye to Pet Odor
      Although you love your four-legged companion, you shouldn't assume your potential buyer loves pets. Therefore, you need to eliminate pet odor, and the best way to do so is by steam cleaning. Steam cleaning removes urine odors from any carpet or upholstery around your home. It ensures the house is clean, smelling fresh, and ready for your next showing. Make sure to target the spaces your pet normally lounges throughout the day!

    Are you looking to sell your home or buy a dream home? Go through these Lafayette homes for sale. You can also stop and view our Lafayette open houses or contact us to learn more about the local real estate market.


    Home Improvement Tips: 7 Projects You Can Do This Weekend

    Home Improvement

    When you think of home improvement projects, stressful renovations that cost lots of time and money may come to mind. But many projects that can improve the look and/or function of your home can be completed in just a weekend. You might be surprised at the number of easy projects that can make a big impact with a relatively small investment of time.

    Whether you're planning on staying in your home for a while or are planning on listing it soon, our real estate agents suggest the following weekend home improvement projects:

    1. Create an inviting entrance to your home.
      A spruced-up entrance can boost your home's curb appeal and make it more inviting for guests. Paint your front door a bold color like one from the red family and add some spiffy new hardware. Add some potted plants near the entrance for a touch of color and greenery, and replace your welcome mat with one you've painted yourself or buy a new one that makes a statement.

    2. Add crown molding.
      Almost any room can look better with the addition of crown molding, but this is especially true for rooms that have high ceilings. The molding creates a unifying effect that makes the ceiling feel like part of the room's overall design. And if you have just a few hours, adding crown molding is a good project, even if you don't have any woodworking experience.

    3. Replace the light fixture in your eating area.
      A fresh light fixture can create a new look in your eating area. Choose one that has the look you want and emits the right amount of light, so you have the right combination of design and function. To replace your existing lighting, turn off the power at your home's breaker box and connect the wires.

    4. Add a window box.
      Add a window box to your home's exterior and fill it with colorful annuals, perennials, or succulents. Best of all, you can enjoy the flowers outside or inside your home, since the tops of plants and flowers will be visible above the window frame. Buy a window box ready-made and add plants, or make your own. Some home improvement stores sell materials in pre-cut sizes, but if not, most will cut the materials for you, so you don't have to.

    5. Replace your cabinet hardware.
      Choose hardware for your cabinets and drawers that reflects your personal taste. Simple metallic hardware is also a good choice, but if you're looking for a unique hardware, check antique shops.

    6. Install a new showerhead.
      If you don't have a low-flow showerhead, install one to save money on your water bill. Even if you already have one, it may not have the features you want. Many new versions are more efficient than previous ones and have features like multiple spray styles, pivoting angles, and temperature settings.

    7. Update your walls with paint or wallpaper.
      Paint and wallpaper are easy ways to transform the look of a room. You can use both if you'd like and freshen your walls with paint while using wallpaper on a single feature or accent wall. You'll also find paintable wallpaper available, with raised details and a wide variety of texture effects and designs.

    Looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale? Stop by one of our Baton Rouge open houses or contact us to get the help you need.


    Start Your Spring Cleaning With These Tips

    Spring Cleaning

    As winter begins to fade, ushering in the vibrant spring colors, you need to ensure your home is ready for the spring. Spring cleaning is a great way to refresh your home, and if you're planning on listing it soon, a thorough cleaning helps you get it ready for the market!

    Besides showing you Houma homes for sale, our real estate agents also compiled these tips to help you prepare for spring cleaning.

    • Declutter Your Home
      Before preparing to clean your home, declutter it to get rid of things around the house that you no longer use. Decluttering makes cleaning easy as the house will be more spacious. Besides making the home appear neat, decluttering also boosts your mental health. The process of removing belongings you no longer need can be liberating. 

      As you declutter, aim to get rid of items you have not used in the past six months. Sort your items in a put-away, trash, store, or giveaway category. You should declutter every sector of your house, including your wardrobe, kitchen, children's toy section, and bookshelf.

    • Shop for Cleaning Supplies
      Once you are left with essentials in your home after decluttering, it is time to buy cleaning supplies. Write down a list of the cleaning supplies you need like mops and sponges and go shopping. After buying them, remember to keep them organized and stored together.

      Opt for all-purpose cleaners to prevent stocking a ton of supplies.

    • Thoroughly Clean Your Home Room by Room
      The best way to deep clean your home is by cleaning room by room. You can create a cleaning checklist to make the cleaning process easier and more organized. Note down any areas or stains that need extra attention during cleaning. Focus more on areas of your home that were barely cleaned over the winter and prioritize them.

      If possible, clean everything in each room, including placemats, tablecloths, pillowcases, and rugs. Before tossing everything in the washing machine, read the labels. If it can't go in the washing machine, you can clean it by hand or shake it vigorously outside to get rid of dust. 

    • Empty and Clean Your Fridge
      Do you remember the last time you cleared your freezer and thoroughly cleaned it? If you can't, now is the right time. Remove all items from your freezer or fridge. 

      To properly clean your fridge, thaw all the ice in the freezer section and deep clean each compartment using warm water. Before returning items to the refrigerator, check their expiration dates and discard any expired items. As you put each item back, organize them in an easily accessible way.

    • Involve the Household and Adopt New Cleaning Habits
      With so much cleaning to do, you need all the help you can get. Everyone in the house, including children, can be great helpers. Identify the tasks to be done and assign chores.

    Would you like to relocate to Houma? Contact us today to view potential homes for you and your family.


    Features First-Time Buyers Want in 2022

    Buyers 2022

    First-time buyers are looking forward to becoming homeowners in 2022, and like all potential buyers, they have their list of preferences. Making a list of "must-haves" and "want to haves" is, after all, an important early step to take before you actually start to look at homes. In some cases, what they're looking for may differ from what other buyers prioritize.
    Our real estate agents share some of the features first-time buyers want in 2022:

    • Large Backyards
      Many first-time homebuyers put large backyards at or near the top of their list of most-desired features. This can help extend their living space by creating a comfortable area in part of the backyard where friends and family can spend time together. And if the buyers have children or plan to have them in the near future, a large backyard offers them a safe, convenient place to play.

    • Garages  
      Garages help keep cars safer and warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They also provide added storage space for items like sporting goods and lawn equipment. After all, when first-time buyers find a home with a big backyard, they're going to need to store a mower and other tools to care for it.

    • Open Floor Plan
      Open floor plans still appeal to many buyers, including those buying their first homes. This type of layout creates a more spacious and multi-functioning space. It allows for better traffic flow and makes it easier to communicate with family and guests if, for example, you're preparing a meal and they're in the adjacent space.

    • Updated Kitchen
      The kitchen is one of the most important rooms, and first-time buyers want a modern, updated look. This can include a neutral color scheme, modernized lighting, and stainless steel appliances.

    • Walk-In Closets
      They may not be the first thing homebuyers think of when it comes to features they're looking for, but walk-in closets are important to first-time buyers. No matter what square footage they're looking at, more storage space that's easy to keep organized is always a good thing.

    • Eco-Friendly Materials and Appliances  
      First-time buyers love to see sustainable materials used in a home and Energy Star appliances that will help lower their energy costs month after month. Solar panels are also a big plus. These features are important to many buyers, but they're generally more important to first-time buyers than to others.

    • Quiet Location  
      As the old adage says, the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. For first-time buyers, that means a quiet location where they can relax and not have to worry about the sounds of traffic or noisy neighbors.

    • Updated Bathrooms
      Current bathroom trends include floating vanities, large-format wall tiles, quartz countertops, back-lit mirrors and medicine cabinets, and wood-look flooring. Smart toilets are also popular, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. They have self-closing lids and touch-free flushing, which reduces contact with germy surfaces. 

    • Guest Room  
      First-time buyers prefer homes that have guest rooms, which can be used for different functions depending on the buyers' preferences. Some may want a traditional guest room as a bedroom for friends or family to stay in overnight, while others may want to repurpose the space into a home office or gym.

    Contact us to see Lafayette homes for sale or visit one of our Lafayette open houses. We love to work with first-time buyers to help them achieve their real estate goals, and if you're selling your home, we can suggest some ways that you can appeal to this set of buyers. 


    Selling Your Home in 2022? What You'll Need to Know

    2022 Real Estate

    The housing market has been, well, pretty up and down as of late. As such, if you are thinking of selling your home in 2022, you may not be sure what to expect. The good news is that real estate analysts are ahead of the game. They're already watching the trends, crunching the numbers, and letting us know what to expect in the coming year. Here are some key points our real estate agents feel will be useful for anyone thinking of selling a home in 2022.

    • The Market Should Rebalance
      In 2020, there was an increase in the number of homebuyers. With more people working from home than ever before, many homeowners chose to upgrade. Low mortgage rates helped perpetuate the boom, too. By 2021, demand outweighed supply, which drove housing prices up in many areas. The good news is that prices are finally beginning to stabilize. Most analysts are now predicting that the market will rebalance by 2022.

    • Some Growth Is Expected
      Real estate analysts use a value called the Freddie Mac House Price Index, or FMHPI, to indicate the inflation experienced in housing prices. For comparison, the FMHPI indicates that home prices increased by more than 11% in 2020. That growth has now slowed down. In 2022, the FHMPI is predicted to be around 7%. In other words, your home will continue to slowly increase in value throughout 2022, but at a slower rate than the past few years.

    • The Seller's Market Will Continue
      Despite slower growth and rebalancing of the market, 2022 is still expected to remain a seller's market. In other words, there are expected to be more home buyers than there will be homes for sale. This means that, as a seller, you have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations. You are less likely to have to replace a roof, change the plumbing, or make other major repairs to the home before selling than you would be in a buyer's market where sellers are desperate to find buyers.

    • Virtual Tactics Will Come Into Play
      These days, so many people are working remotely. Some are relocating to a new city but maintaining their job in a different city. People are also leaving jobs and changing jobs in record numbers. As such, you may have some out-of-town buyers interested in your home. Your real estate agent will therefore want to take plenty of video footage of the home. You'll want to be open to virtual open houses and similar events.

    • Potential for Multiple Offers
      Many Houma homes for sale have multiple offers within days. In a seller's market, you hold the power. You get to consider these multiple offers and choose the one that suits you best. A good real estate agent can help guide you in this process. 

    Contact us if you're looking for a seller's agent in the New Orleans or Houma area. We'll guide you through the intricate process of selling your home.


    How Our Team Can Help With Your 2022 Real Estate Goals

    2022 Louisiana

    If your 2022 plans include buying a home, our real estate agents know that working with an experienced agent will make a positive difference in your buying experience.

    Here are a few of the ways our team can help with your 2022 real estate goals. 

    • We'll Negotiate a Deal with Better Terms
      We'll negotiate with the seller to get the best possible terms for your new home. Our team knows when a home isn't priced fairly, and we'll advocate on your behalf for a better price. Price isn't the only detail of your purchase. Other items that need to be negotiated include your closing date, any contingencies for your deal, and what items remain with the home. Our real estate agents will work to secure the terms that you need. 
    • Our Agents Have Access to the MLS Listings
      The MLS is a comprehensive collection of homes for sale, regardless of what realtor or agency is handling the property. It's much more efficient to use MLS listings to search for Lafayette homes for sale than trying to monitor multiple real estate businesses for potential homes. Access to MLS listings can reduce the amount of time that it takes you to find your ideal home and provide early notifications about open houses, new listings, and price reductions.
    • Our Team Knows How to Make Tactful Requests
      There's a good chance that your home inspection report will include a few items that need repairs. Some sellers balk at doing any repairs, and it can be tricky trying to save the deal. Our agents know what repairs are important and which ones aren't necessarily worth losing the home over. We can make a tactful request for the seller to complete the repairs that are necessary for you to purchase the home. Or, if there's a disagreement about what repairs should be completed, we'll help you come to a resolution with the seller. 
    • We'll Work to Get Everything Done Before Your Closing Date
      For the deal to close, there are a few things that have to be done, like an appraisal and property inspection. There is a lot of paperwork going back and forth, and it's easy for a document to be misplaced by the various companies involved in your purchase. We know how to locate missing documents and what to do if something has to be replaced. We'll also assist with scheduling the necessary appointments for your closing to happen. Or, if a problem arises (such as an issue with the title search or the home not appraising for the needed amount), we have the experience to efficiently deal with these problems. We also know when a problem is a minor roadblock and when it's a potential dealbreaker.
    • We Know A Lot About Neighborhoods and Communities
      When you're purchasing a home, you're buying more than the structure. You're also buying the neighborhood and community where the home is located. Our agents have a lot of market knowledge about potential neighborhoods and communities. We'll help you locate a home in an area that's perfect for your lifestyle and preferences.

    Ready to start working on your 2022 goals? Contact us today!


    Appliance Upgrades That Add Value

    Home Upgrades Add Value

    With the housing market soaring, many people are selling their homes at tremendous profit margins. But some sellers are maximizing their income even further by investing in a few upgrades. At this stage of the game, it's important to purchase items that will bring in a healthy return on investment. New appliances are a good option! Our real estate agents have a few recommendations to consider. 

    • Refrigerator Freezer
      The star of the kitchen is a fabulous refrigerator with attractive extras such as French doors, a stainless steel finish, and a water and ice dispenser. Interior features include easy access freezer drawers, crispers with humidity controls, and even Keurig K-Cup brewing options. Bottom freezers make it easy to access the contents of the refrigerator section by putting it at eye level. The Energy Star rating is important to buyers, as is the warranty that comes with a new appliance, ensuring worry-free function for several years.

    • Range
      Like refrigerators, high-end models boast amazing features such as dual fuel, which is, of course, dependent upon the options afforded by the house. Serious cooks like oversized ovens with consistent temperatures. The finish should match that of the refrigerator, the most popular of which is stainless steel. Special features include steam options for baking, touchscreen controls, and black glass doors. Gas models generally offer grills and griddles, while electric ranges often offer glass cooktops. Whether gas or electric, self-cleaning ovens are a must. 

    • Washer Dryer Sets
      While potential buyers want the laundry room to look nice, efficiency is far more important to them. To this end, they look for variable capacity to handle the heaviest loads of bedding and small loads of delicate clothing. Whether the washer is front or top loading, each will have its own benefits. For a smaller space, particularly in a townhouse or condominium, a stacking pair may be preferable. Many new models offer smart technology with water-saving features. Saving energy is equally important, so be sure to look for the Energy Star rating. 

    • Water Softener
      Hard water in the home can be a hidden cost that increases with time. Minerals from well water leave scale and build-up in pipes and appliances, shortening their useful lives. Hard water will not harm the people who drink it, but it does cause problems in other ways. Hard water does not dissolve soap effectively, meaning soap scum will coat shower doors, spots will remain on glasses in the dishwasher, and clothing will become dull and stiff. A water softener ends all of those issues, making it a popular feature in many Alexandria homes for sale

    • Dishwasher
      While this is the least important appliance to most buyers, it is still important to consider its role in the complete kitchen upgrade. Newer models offer water-saving features, making it more convenient to wash smaller loads of dishes every day instead of having to wait for a full load. Other positive features for newer models are sanitizing cycles and quiet operations. Built-in dishwashers offer a seamless look, blending in with the other appliance upgrades. However, if space is a factor, portable dishwashers are another great option. Dishwashers are also available in the ever-popular stainless steel. Look for the Energy Star rating for the best value. 

    These appliance upgrades will make your home more efficient and comfortable while you reside there. They are also tried and true methods of boosting the sale value of your home. Contact us if you are considering selling, and our real estate professionals will be happy to offer additional insights. 


    Prepare for Showings: How to Improve Your Home's Scent

    Showing Tips

    Our sense of smell can be a powerful influence over us. Certain smells carry with them emotions or even memories. Pleasant smells can also impact our first impressions of a place, which gives you a powerful tool you can use as you begin staging your home.

    Making your home smell fresh and welcoming can help generate interest. Below are a few tried-and-true methods our real estate agents recommend for making your home smell good right before a showing or open house.

    • Remove Odors Using Baking Soda
      First things first: You need to start with a clean slate, which means eliminating any existing odors. Fortunately, you likely have the perfect solution for this already in your kitchen. Baking soda absorbs odors instead of covering them up, so sprinkle it on your carpet and upholstery about 15 minutes before vacuuming.

    • Bake Cookies
      If you enjoy baking, making cookies before a showing is a great way to fill your home with a wonderful smell no one can resist. The smell of baking cookies often brings to mind memories of childhood, grandparents, and holidays, in other words, all things that turn a house into a real home. As an added bonus, you could even leave the cookies out for prospective buyers to munch on. Can you imagine a warmer welcome?

    • Simmer Seasonal Scents
      If you don't have the time to bake cookies, you can whip up a little scent factory on your stove instead. Bring a pot of water to a simmer, and then add your desired scents to the water. For instance, many simmer pot recipes call for citrus and vanilla for a warm, welcoming fragrance. Cinnamon and cloves are also popular. For a host of seasonal suggestions, search the internet for "simmer pot recipes" and whatever season you want to evoke.

    • Add Some Plants
      Flowers and other plants aren't just for curb appeal. You'll find house plants and flower arrangements throughout Lafayette homes for sale, partly for the welcoming look but also partly for their fragrance. Whether you are using potted plants or bouquets of cut flowers, look for something with a light, sweet fragrance that won't be too overpowering. For instance, roses and lavender are two popular scents that are floral without seeming too perfumed. Do avoid flowers like lilies, however, as many people are allergic to their pollen.

    • Diffuse Essential Oils
      If you don't have time to bake or simmer up a scent, and you have no green thumb for staging with plants, all hope is not lost! Diffusers and some carefully chosen essential oils enable you to fill your home with a clean, welcoming scent. A fan-style diffuser would need to be run for a few hours before your open house, but a few simple reed diffusers throughout the house will ensure that your home smells ready for a showing at any time. For the best results, stick with a single scent throughout the house, something not too perfume-like. Citrus and herbal scents tend to be liked by the widest range of people.

    Scent is a powerful influencer that can help turn a prospective buyer's decision into a more emotional one. For more tips on how to win over your potential buyers and sell your home, or to start your search for the perfect dream home, contact us today.


    National Recycling Day: Tips for a Sustainable Home

    Sustainable Home

    As environmentally conscious Americans look toward a more sustainable lifestyle, it quickly becomes evident that recycling is a critical part of the equation; so much so that we have recognized National Recycling Day on November 15th since 1997. Our real estate agents would like to point out some of the ways you can make your home more sustainable and how we can use recycling to improve our lives as well as the health of the planet. 

    • Recycled Building Materials
      These fall into two main categories: reusing existing materials and products made from recycled materials. Many Lafayette homes for sale have been repaired or remodeled with reclaimed materials. Supplies reclaimed from tear-down sites often find their way into barbecue pits, fences, and walls. A frugal shopper can find useable materials in donation outlets such as Habitat for Humanity Restore. Online sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up are also great resources for materials while protecting local landfills. Barn wood is a perfect option for a decorative material thanks to its unique weathered appearance. Even old blue jeans make excellent insulation material. Recycled materials that are transformed into entirely new products are newspaper wood, ecobricks made from waste plastic, and glass bricks made from recycled glass. All it takes is a little creativity! 
    • Household Products
      Homeowners can support recycling by purchasing goods made from recycled materials. Some items you use every day are made from recycled materials. The most common are paper products. Look for the recycled symbol on copy paper, facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels. While in their earlier days, some of these items were inferior to products made from new materials, production processes have improved dramatically over the years and you will find it difficult to recognize which is which. That's why it's important to read the labels to make sure you support the companies that give materials a second life. Plus, when possible opt for products that are reusable compared to disposable ones. This adds up over time and can save you money in the long run! 
      • Refurbished Furniture
        You don't have to feel guilty about hating that old dining room table your grandmother gave you when you got your first apartment. You can find some items like that new homes simply by putting a "free" sign on them and setting them in the front yard (Do check HOA regulations first!) or consider donating your old furniture when possible. Prefer to keep your old furniture and take on a DIY project? You can also have couches reupholstered, refinish dressers and chests of drawers, and so much more. Get creative!
      • Explore DIY Options Before Buying New
        Whether you need a birdbath for the backyard, a headboard for the bed, or more storage in the den, you can find do-it-yourself ideas on the internet. Very few require significant carpentry skills. A little spray paint may be all you need to turn an old tv stand into attractive storage. Prop your feet up on your beautiful new ottoman made by padding an old coffee table. 

      Looking for a home with eco-friendly features? If you're in the market for a new home, contact us. There are plenty of gorgeous options in Lafayette, waiting just for you!


      7 Tips for Adding Personality to Your Home

      Home Decor Tips

      When you first move into your new house, you might find it beautiful, but it may not quite feel like "home" yet. In order to make it feel like home, you need to give it some personality! Here are some fun and easy ways our real estate agents recommend bringing your own personality into your new space.

      1. Display Your Souvenirs
        Do you have souvenirs from vacations you've taken? Perhaps you have a collection of shot glasses from different cities, or maybe you have a few prints you've bought at key destinations. Work these into your decor. They are part of your story, and they're great conversation pieces that will prompt visitors to ask you about your travels.

      2. Add Meaningful Decor
        Not every piece in your space needs to have a story or call lots of attention to itself. In fact, if every piece is a conversation piece, the space might feel overwhelming. A good strategy is to choose mostly "plain" items to decorate with and then work in a few key, meaningful pieces that speak to your interests and personality. These key pieces will then hold your attention more readily.

      3. Avoid Clutter While Decorating
        Clutter has a way of getting in the way of a room's personality. It distracts from the decorations you've chosen. So, as you decorate your new home, make sure you don't allow clutter to accumulate. Include lots of storage so you can hide away things like keys, note pads, and pencils. Make sure every item in the room has a home.

      4. Purchase Some Custom Artwork
        Decorating your whole home with custom artwork can get expensive, but including a few custom pieces is pretty manageable. Work with an artist to have a large painting created for your living room and perhaps one for the dining room. Make sure this painting depicts something you love. For example, if you are an equestrian, you may wish to have a custom painting of horses made for your home. 

      5. Choose Colors You Love
        Different colors evoke different feelings. Red is energetic and exciting. Blue is cool and calm. Think about your personality and the colors that best represent it. If you're a really quiet person, for example, including a lot of blue and green in your home can help give off that personality. If you're an energetic person, you may want to decorate with orange and yellow.

      6. Design Areas for Your Hobbies
        Throughout your home, aim to create spaces where you can comfortably engage in the activities you love most. For example, if you love reading, you might want to create a reading nook in your living room. If you enjoy cooking, you might want to deck out your kitchen with the latest cookware, displaying it on your shelves. Don't forget the yard, either. You can put it in a garden or a grill area if those things suit your personality.

      7. Decorate the Entryway
        Sometimes there is a tendency to dismiss the entryway as a purely functional part of the home where you keep your coats and shoes. But this is the first place guests see when they come over! Make sure you decorate it with a few personal items, like family photos or souvenirs.

      Remember, you don't have to decorate your home in one day. Work on it slowly, using the tips above to add personality along the way. If you're still looking for New Orleans homes for sale, don't hesitate to contact us. Our helpful real estate agents can guide you every step of the way.


      When to Replace These Household Items

      Household Items

      Maintaining a clean and healthy household is an important part of homeownership, so our real estate agents always recommend replacing everyday household items on a regular basis. However, keeping track of when things need to be replaced can be challenging as there are so many items we use on a daily basis. To further complicate things, many household items need to be replaced more often than you'd think. 

      To keep a clean, safe, and healthy home, we recommend replacing these household items at regular intervals throughout the year:

      • Hand Towels - If you leave wet hand towels in your bathroom for an extended period of time, you're really creating a space for germs to thrive. Hand towels should be swapped out and washed every 2 to 3 days at a minimum. However, if they see a lot of use, it's not a bad idea to replace them daily. 
      • Bath Mats - Similar to hand towels, bath mats collect a lot of moisture over time. To keep them germ-free, you'll want to wash them regularly and replace them every 18 to 24 months. Plus, who doesn't love shopping for a new bath mat?
      • Toothbrush - Brushing your teeth is a part of your daily routine, but it's easy to forget to swap out your toothbrush. However, your toothbrush actually becomes less effective as the bristles start to wear, so you should replace it every 3 months. 
      • Refrigerator Water Filters - Your water filter in your refrigerator is responsible for clean drinking water and clean ice, but it also collects a significant amount of bacteria. Change it every 6 to 8 months. 
      • Toilet Brush - You might think your toilet cleaner is keeping your toilet brush clean, but the truth is toilet brushes accumulate a significant amount of bacteria after each clean. The longevity of your brush will ultimately depend on how often you clean your toilet, but you should probably swap it out every year at a minimum.
      • Kitchen Sponges - Dirty kitchen sponges should be replaced on a weekly basis. When reused repeatedly over an extended period of time, they can leave germs and bacteria on your dishes and countertops, which can then make their way into your food.
      • Air Conditioning Filters - Your air conditioning filter prevents dirt, particles, and allergens from circulating throughout your home. It also protects your air conditioning unit from ingesting these harmful particles as well, which can ultimately shorten its lifespan. As a result, your best bet is to replace it every 4 months. 
      • Pillow Cases - Pillowcases do not last forever, and over time they can accumulate dust mites. Unless you're using special allergen covers, you should wash your pillowcases weekly and replace them annually. 
      • Vacuum Cleaner Filters - When your vacuum filter starts to overflow, you'll want to take care of it right away to prevent the particles it sucks up from reemerging into the air. As a result, be sure to change it out every three to six months.

      No household item lasts forever, but the ones listed above need to be replaced relatively frequently to keep your home clean and healthy. For more tips on home maintenance, or to start searching Baton Rouge homes for sale, contact us today.


      How to Prepare for an Open House

      Alexandria Open House

      When you list your home for sale, an open house is a traditional activity that boosts the exposure of your home. Before you set a date for your open house, there are some preparation tasks you should know about. Our real estate agents recommend the following tasks to help your home make a lasting impression during your open house.

      1. Clean and Declutter
        An open house is a fantastic opportunity to show off your home to potential buyers, but you only have one chance to make a stellar first impression. Make sure that you've thoroughly decluttered every inch of your home and deep cleaned every room. When you clean, clean in a circle to make sure you don't miss any spaces. You should also clean from the top of the room to the bottom to ensure you don't have to clean any areas more than once. Try to remove half of the things in your home, and store them off-sight in a storage unit or friend's garage. The less stuff you have in your home, the larger it will seem. It's also easier for buyers to take in a home's features when it isn't overwhelmed with too many things. On the day of your open house, stash any personal belongings (like shoes, pocketbooks, backpacks, and coats) out of sight. Vacuum or sweep the floors, and see that all the beds are made. Don't forget the outside spaces! Use your leaf blower to quickly rid your deck, porch, and driveway of dirt and leaves. 
      1. Accomplish Any Maintenance Tasks on Your To-Do List
        Perhaps you've been meaning to refresh your living room paint or fix that noisy faucet. Any repair or maintenance tasks should be completed before your open house. Check that all your lightbulbs work and that your heating and cooling system has a fresh, dust-free air filter. If buyers notice that routine maintenance tasks are past due, they may assume that you haven't properly cared for your home. This leads them to assume that the home needs work and can result in a lower offer price. 
      1. Have a Plan for Your Pets
        Even homebuyers that adore animals tend to view homes with pets as less appealing. Individuals with allergies or high standards for cleaning are even more likely to forgo a home with pets. When it's time for your open house, get your pets out of the house until it's over. You should also remove any obvious pet gear, like litterboxes, toys, beds, and food and water dishes. 
      1. Depersonalize Your Home
        It's hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in a home when personalized items decorate a space. Remove any pictures of your family and friends, and see that you grab any piles of homework or bills lying around.
      1. Embrace the Fresh Air
        Fresh air makes any space feel more inviting. If the weather permits, open the windows to freshen the air in your home. This helps remove odors and "stale" air in rooms that you don't frequently use. 

        Want more info about selling your home and listing it among the other Alexandria homes for sale? Contact us today!


        What to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

        Interview Real Estate Agents

        When you're listing your home for sale, you'll have your choice of many real estate agents to do business with. Before signing a contract, take the time to interview a few, so you understand exactly what they'll be doing to sell your home and to ensure you have a good rapport with them.
        Our real estate agents suggest asking the following questions when you're interviewing agents:

        • What's included in your services?  
          Real estate agents typically list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), complete with an accurate listing description and appealing photos. They should also help you price your home based on a comparative market analysis of similar homes in your area. 

        • How would you market my home?
          A real estate agent should be able to explain how your home will be marketed. How will photographs and videos of your home be handled? Will other marketing strategies, like direct mail, be used?

        • What steps will be taken to prepare your home for sale?
          You'll need to know what to do to prepare your home before it goes on the market, and a real estate agent's experience and expertise should be able to guide you. They may, for example, suggest improvements that will make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. If that's the case, the agent should be able to tell you what improvements are most popular with buyers in your area and which are likely to earn the highest return on your investment.

        • What type of experience do you have?
          Ideally, an agent will have experience in selling homes that are in the same neighborhood or area as yours. They should also have experience in selling the type of home you have, such as a starter home, home with acreage, or a historic home.

        • Can you help connect me with other professionals? 
          Selling your home often requires the help of professionals such as home inspectors and title companies. And if you're making repairs and improvements to your home, you may need recommendations for painters, plumbers, and other similar tradespeople. A real estate agent should have good relationships with these contacts and be able to recommend those who perform their jobs with honesty and skill.

        • What sets you apart from other agents?  
          Marketing your home is important, but an agent also needs to be able to successfully market themselves to you. Do they pride themselves on their experience or a successful track record? Are they particularly good at being available when you need them? They should be able to answer this question in a way that makes you want to do business with them.

        • How well do you know the area?
          Although agents who are new to the area can often do a great job, it's an extra advantage to have an agent who has lived around the area for a long time. That way, they'll understand the local market, know what's important to buyers in the area, be aware of all the amenities near your home, and more.  

        Contact us today to put your home on the market with other Lafayette homes for sale or to visit homes for sale in the area. Our agents pride themselves on knowing the local market and making your real estate transaction experience an easy and pleasant one. 


        5 Ways to Add More Natural Light

        Natural Light TipsSoft, warm, and hard to replicate, natural light is always better than artificial light. It brings a rich, full-spectrum hue that makes your room feel brighter, bigger, and more welcoming. Natural light also lifts your spirit, improves your wellbeing, and even helps cut down on your utility bills. Our real estate agents run through 5 easy ways to increase the amount of natural light in your home.

        1. Use Lighter Wall and Ceiling Paints
          Color can either absorb or reflect light. Lighter colors bounce light around the room, while dark shades absorb light and make a room dreary than it really is. Banish dark block colors and statement wallpaper in favor of a soft shade of white paint. If you really don't like the brightest white, look into off-white shades or other lighter color tones. Choose a paint with a glossier finish to enhance the reflective properties of the surface color. Also, consider painting the ceiling a few shades lighter than the walls to make the room feel brighter, larger, and airier. A matte finish is preferred for ceilings because it reduces glare.

        2. Add Reflective Surfaces and Accents
          Mirrors and other shiny surfaces can help reflect and amplify the amount of light in your space. So, consider hanging decorative mirror walls, metallic light fixtures, and faucets, furniture with glass, metallic, or chrome finishes. In the bathroom and kitchen, you can incorporate ceramic or glass tiles into your backsplash. And when it comes to décor elements, go for light-colored furniture pieces, linens, accents, and window treatments to help bounce natural light around your space.

        3. Do Some Exterior Work
          While you're outside, give your glass doors and windows a thorough clean to ensure light can filter through the glass and into your home. Also, take a look around your home's exterior to see if there are any obstructions that may be blocking the sun. Trim any overgrown trees, hanging vines, and shrubs that are growing around your windows and doors. 

        4. Install Larger Windows or Doors
          If there's an opportunity to install new windows, especially those facing east, west, or south, this should be considered. Advances in window manufacturing allow for more exposed glass and minimal framework. Choose bow, bay, or picture windows for the greatest impact. Also, replacing a solid exterior door with a garden or patio door can help transform your space into a "sunroom." Bi-folding doors are also a good choice because they can transform an entire wall into glass for ultimate light levels and breathtaking views.

        5. Add Skylights to Bring in Top Light
          Skylights are a unique and effective way of pulling in natural light. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and can be installed easily and quickly. They often work great in windowless rooms and high-traffic areas like family rooms and bathrooms. Skylights bring in "top light," which is three times brighter than the light that penetrates windows. But if your roof cannot accommodate a skylight, consider installing a solar tube or sun pipe. These ingenious, twisty pipes travel from the roof to the ceiling and bring natural light with them.

        Looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale with inviting natural light? Planning to get your home ready to sell shortly? Whatever your real estate needs are, our experts at Latter & Blum are here to help you navigate the housing market and make things easier for you. Contact us today!


        Clever Ways to Hide a Litter Box

        Litter Box Tips

        No matter how much you love your cat, you have to agree — their litter box is not as cute as they are. Rather than keeping the litter box out in the open, many cat owners turn to various techniques and tactics to hide their litter boxes. Here are some options to keep in mind as you look at Baton Rouge homes for sale

        • Cat Door in a Cabinet
          You could turn a lower cabinet, perhaps in the laundry room, into a litter box haven. Put a cat door on one side of the cabinet. This way, your kitty can have easy access. Plus the door closes behind them, keeping odors and litter inside.

        • Wicker Basket Litter Box
          Look for a large, wicker basket. You want the type with a fold-back lid. Ideally, it should be at least two feet wide and three feet long, so there's lots of room for a litter box inside. Cut a hole in one side of the wicker, and line up a small cat door into the hole. Your cat can access the litter box via this hole, and you can swing the top of the basket open to clean the litter box.

        • Under-Sink Litter Box With a Curtain
          One of the simplest ways to hide a litter box is to place it under your sink. Remove the cupboard doors, and instead, mount a curtain to the underside of the cabinet. The curtain will keep the litter box out of view, but your cat will be able to push past it easily, to access their litter.

        • Skirted End Table Litter Box
          If you can manage to find a small, square end table, push it up against a wall, and then drape a curtain over it. You could even use a shower curtain for this purpose. Then, add something heavy to the top of the table to hold the curtain in place. A potted plant or decorative figurine works really well here. Place the litter box under the end table. Your cat can easily access it through the curtains, but it will remain out of sight.

        • Entryway Bench Litter Box
          Covered benches are really popular in entryways. If you put a hole in one end of a covered bench and put the litter box inside, you'll have a very covert litter box setup. People can still sit on the bench as they put their shoes on and such. This solution works well in smaller homes where you really need to use space efficiently.

        • Litter Box Cube
          If you or someone you know is handy and can make a basic wooden box, then this idea works well. The box will need a lid that you can lift, along with a hole in one side. You can lift the lid to clean the litter box, and your cat can access it via the hole in the side. Since this is a custom-made cube, you can paint or stain it any color you want to match your decor.

        Cats are lovely pets, but their litter boxes aren't fun to deal with. When you don't want your litter box displayed out in the open, then one of these clever hiding techniques is sure to come in handy. Contact us if you and your kitty are still looking for a house to call home. Our real estate agents are ready to help guide your search.


        7 Tips for Picking the Right Real Estate Agent

        Real Estate Agent Tips

        Choosing a real estate agent is an important part of ensuring your next real estate transaction is successful and as stress-free as possible. Before you consider buying or selling a home in the area, you want to make sure you find the right person to help you every step of the way. Our real estate agents suggest these 7 tips for finding the perfect fit.

        1. Ask for Recommendations
          The best place to start is to ask for recommendations from your friends, family, neighbors, and others you know personally. It's an easy way to launch your search and it's a good way to find local, trustworthy agents with a positive track record.

        2. Look for Local Specialists
          Especially if you are buying or selling in a hot neighborhood, it's important to look for an agent who specializes in your neighborhood. This agent will be knowledgeable of sales in your neighborhood, which for a seller means a better listing and pricing. For a buyer, it means they'll be able to alert you faster to new listings.

        3. Visit Open Houses in your Area
          One of the best ways to find an agent who specializes in your area is to visit an open house in the same neighborhood. Check listings of Lafayette homes for sale close to your home or in the neighborhood where you wish to move, and find out when their open houses will be. Dropping in during the open house will give you an opportunity to chat with the agent face-to-face, so you can get a feel for their approach, their experience with your neighborhood, and how well your personalities click.

        4. Check Reviews
          It can't be overlooked that online reviews are an excellent way to research an agent. Look for reviews that provide lots of detail and feedback about things like how effectively an agent markets a home, how skilled they are at negotiation, and how easy they are to get in touch with. 

        5. Interview Multiple Agents
          Every agent isn't going to be right for you, even if they were recommended by someone you know and trust. That's why it's important to interview a number of agents before signing with one. Meeting with agents takes a lot of time, though, so do your research first and narrow your list down to three or so agents to interview.

        6. Discuss Marketing Strategy
          One of the most important things you'll want to discuss with a potential agent when you interview them is their marketing strategy. Some agents might not want to do an open house, for example, while others don't give a lot of guidance for staging your home. Use this opportunity to ask about the agent's marketing strategies, discuss your communication preferences, ask about contract terms, and mention anything else you are hoping to get from this partnership.

        7. Trust Your Instincts
          If you find yourself particularly drawn to one agent, there's probably a good reason for it. Chemistry is an important consideration when choosing a real estate agent because you're more likely to work well with someone with whom you just click. If one agent appeals to you more than the others, go with your gut!

        We understand that choosing an agent is a big decision! To set up a time to chat with one of our agents, contact us today.


        Popcorn Ceiling Removal Tips

        Popcorn Ceiling

        It's no secret that design trends come and go. One that was extremely popular in the 1950s was the popcorn ceiling. Since then this trend has fallen by the wayside, or shall we say, popped. If you're ready to update the look of your ceiling, removing a popcorn ceiling is a potential DIY project.

        Our real estate agents know that properties without popcorn ceilings appear more updated and attractive to prospective buyers. Here are some helpful tips to assist you with this DIY project. 

        1. Confirm That Your Ceilings are Asbestos-Free
          Before you get started, test your ceiling to confirm that it is free of asbestos. Some ceilings in older homes may pose an asbestos risk. You can test the ceilings yourself with a kit from your local hardware store, or you can hire a professional to conduct the testing. Should you decide to do the testing yourself, wear protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. If your ceiling tests positive for asbestos, you'll need to hire a professional to handle the removal. 
        1. Assemble Your Tools Before You Start
          Once you've ruled out potential hazards, you should gather the tools that you'll need to remove the popcorn ceiling before you begin the project. This includes drop cloths to protect the surfaces and floors in the room, a sprayer, a putty knife, painter's tape, protection, and a ladder. 
        1. Get the Room Ready
          Once you start removing the popcorn ceiling, the ceiling will get all over the room. Protect the walls and floors by taping up plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Remove any ceiling fans and light fixtures in the room; use painter's tape to cover and protect the electrical boxes. If possible, remove the furniture from the room. Removing a popcorn ceiling is an insanely messy job, and you don't want to worry about your furniture getting dirty. It's also easier to move your ladder and supplies if you don't have to work around furniture. 
        1. Wet the Ceiling Before You Start Scraping
          It's often easier to remove popcorn texture when it's wet. Use your garden sprayer to wet a small section of the ceiling. Wait 15 minutes and then scrape the popcorn texture away using your putty knife. Don't wet too large of a section, or the water will dry before you get a chance to scrape the ceiling. 
        1. Watch How You Maneuver the Putty Knife
          When you're scraping with the putty knife, make sure that you don't damage the ceiling. If your putty knife has sharp or jagged edges, file them so that they're smooth and not as sharp. 
        1. Have a Plan in Place for Your Ceiling
          Once the popcorn texture is removed, you'll need to paint it. Fill any damaged portions of the ceiling with joint compound. Then, sand the ceiling so it's smooth. Apply primer to your ceilings according to the instructions. Once the ceiling is properly primed, you can paint it your desired color. 

        Ready to sell your home? Contact us today to start learning more about Baton Rouge homes for sale!


        What to Pay Attention to When Your Neighbors Sell Their Home

        Selling Your Home

        With the current rise in real estate prices, many homeowners are putting their homes on the market to take advantage of big profits. If you're considering the same thing, our real estate agents at Latter & Blum have professional expertise that can help you get a great return on your investment.

        If you're noticing a lot of New Orleans homes for sale in your area, you may be wondering if it's time to sell while sales prices are up, inventory is down, and interest rates are at an all-time low. Before following your neighbors' actions, it's important to do some research.

        Pay Attention to the Local Market

        Before you list your home for sale, you should research local market trends that may impact your listing price. Neighborhoods often take on personalities of their own by attracting more singles, young families, or retirees. Although listing prices may play a role in demographic trends, neighborhood attractions like transportation services, shopping malls, movie theaters, schools, and parks also play a role in attracting certain types of buyers.

        If for-sale signs are popping up in your neighborhood, take a closer look at the listings through online real estates sites or talk to a real estate agent for more information. By researching available properties online, you can investigate important information about the property:

        1. Scroll through the interior and exterior photos

        2. Compare the home's total square footage

        3. Check for home upgrades and amenities

        4. Check the age of the home

        5. Find out how long the home has been on the market

        Go to Open Houses

        If your neighbor is hosting an open house, take the time to stop by. As you tour the home, make mental notes of valuable upgrades such as new flooring; new plumbing and fixtures; new kitchen cabinets and appliances; bathroom whirlpools and soaking tubs; interior and exterior lighting; property landscaping; and home security systems. If your home doesn't have all of these amenities, you likely won't get the same price as your neighbor.

        If you still want to list your home, you may need to drop your price or work out discounts for the buyer, rather than sinking money into home upgrades and repairs. Buyers who like the home and the area are more likely to work out some type of agreement with discount incentives so they don't lose the home, especially when other neighborhood listings are priced much higher or over the buyer's budget.

        Investigate the Time on the Market

        In today's real estate market, properties can sell overnight or sit on the market for months before they sell. If your neighbor's house recently sold, investigate how long it was listed on the market prior to the sale. Most online real estate listings tell you the number of days a house has been on the market. If you notice that your neighbor's house was on the market for 6 months or longer when other homes in the area sold right away, there's likely a good reason. Common reasons include:

        • Roofing with signs of damage, leaks, or mold

        • Showers, tubs, and sinks with leaks and low water pressure

        • Heating and AC systems that don't heat or cool property

        • Lack of interior upgrades or repairs

        • Lack of outdoor maintenance and sprinklers

        • No home security system

        Before you decide to list your home, contact us for professional guidance on ways to quickly sell your home for maximum profits in a seller's market.


        How to Update Your Driveway

        Houma Driveway Tips

        When you, a prospective buyer, or anyone else looks at your home, your driveway is one of the first things visible. As a result, it can contribute in a major way to curb appeal or lack thereof. If your driveway is damaged, outdated, or just a little too blah, our real estate agents recommend updating it. Here are a few questions to help you decide whether to update your driveway and how.

        1. Is your driveway cracked and broken?
          If your driveway has cracks or is breaking up, you'll first need to decide how bad the damage is, and that will help you decide what to do about it. A few cracks can be patched, and then the entire driveway updated (and the patches hidden) with a spray coating and rolled texture for a classy, modern look. Major breaks will probably require a new driveway, but you can likely achieve this by patching the damage and then having the new driveway put down on top of the old one.

        2. Does your driveway look outdated?
          If your driveway just looks old and outdated compared to other Houma homes for sale, it might be time to do something a little different, even if the old one is still perfectly serviceable. Consider the materials used for your current driveway and if you'd like to switch to a new one. Concrete and asphalt are popular options and while installation and materials can be costly they require little maintenance, compared to gravel. Your driveway can help to make or break your home's curb appeal, so if you want it to look its best, whether for you or for the ease of selling it, updating the driveway might be your best option. A textured coating for a concrete driveway is an inexpensive way to achieve the smart look of a custom driveway, for example, or you could spring for a whole new driveway and start fresh.

        3. Does your driveway lack lighting?
          A well-lit driveway looks classy, but it offers functionality, too, as it makes it easier to navigate your driveway at night. Fortunately, lighting is an easy solution, especially if you'll be updating the landscaping too as you work on improving your home's curb appeal. Look for small but mighty lights that will do their job well while blending with your landscaping.

        4. Does your home need an infusion of curb appeal?
          Curb appeal isn't just about selling your home. It's how good your home looks to a passerby, as well as a visitor's first impression. If your home lacks some oomph, jazz it up by refreshing your landscaping and updating small details about your driveway. For example, a landscaped border of pavers and plants alongside your driveway can help to boost those first impressions.

        Curb appeal can make a huge difference in your home's value. If you're thinking about selling your home and wondering what you should update before listing, contact us today to get in touch with one of our agents.


        How to Add More Closet Space to Your Home

        Closet Space Tips

        Storage is one thing we never seem to have enough of, which is probably why closet space is usually such a big selling point for homebuyers. If you feel like you're in cramped quarters, here are six suggestions from our real estate agents for adding to your closet space, ranging from minor adjustments to major renovations.

        1. Get Creative
          Not all storage spaces have to be tucked away into a closet. There are plenty of creative storage options you can use to make more storage space out of nothing. For example, reclaim that lost space under your bed by getting a bed frame with under-bed storage drawers or shelves, or check out furniture such as storage ottomans, cube shelves, and freestanding wardrobes.

        2. Maximize Current Closet Space
          Sometimes the issue isn't really a lack of storage space, but under-used closet space. The traditional approach of a single clothing bar with a shelf above it tends to leave a lot of wasted space. Look into organizational design options to customize and make full use of your closet space, from recessed nooks to the backs of the doors. Consider installing custom shelving, drawers, or a second clothing bar to utilize your unused spaces. Closet upgrades like these always make a good impression in Baton Rouge homes for sale.

        3. Install Open Closets
          The concept of open closets might seem unappealing, but you may already have some of these spaces without realizing it. For example, a mudroom setup with coat hooks, a bench, and cubbies with bins represents an open closet design that is a popular and attractive part of many homes. You can build similarly designed open closets in bathrooms that lack linen storage or in craft rooms for supply storage.

        4. Find Unused Spaces
          Houses often have unused spaces in them that can be given new life as reconverted closet spaces. For instance, you might have unused space under your stairs. It's often easier and requires less remodeling to convert those spaces into closets than building closets from scratch. Another option is to convert a small bedroom into a walk-in closet and dressing room. This can easily be turned back into a bedroom when it comes time to sell the house.

        5. Build a Closet
          If you've exhausted all the creative options available to you and still find yourself pressed for storage space, it might be time to consider building a closet or expanding on an existing one. This does mean more involved renovations and may cut into the size of the room where you're adding the closet space. In some cases, however, you may find that it's worth the expense.

        6. Declutter
          When all else fails, remember that much of the stuff we keep and store we don't really need. Make it a habit of going through your closets regularly, getting rid of things you don't need or haven't used in a while, and reorganizing to make the best use of the space. This is especially important if you're getting ready to sell your home! 

        Storage is an ongoing issue for many households, and there's a reason why storage is often toward the top of our clients' wish lists. If you've outgrown your current space and you're ready to move onto something bigger and better, contact us today.


        Kitchen Updates to Make Cooking Easier

        Kitchen Updates

        There are Baton Rouge homes for sale that can meet all of your needs. However, that doesn't mean you can't still do a bit of work to make your new house your own. If you're a home chef, for instance, you might like to make a few changes to making cooking easier. From minor additions to major renovations, here are a few kitchen updates to consider.

        1. An Induction Cooktop
          A regular electric or gas-powered range can work well for your basic needs, but an induction cooktop can make cooking so much easier and more precise. It lets you regulate temperature more accurately, for perfect browning, boiling, and steaming, every time. It's also more energy-efficient than your regular stovetop.

        2. A Warming Drawer
          If you're cooking multiple things at once, the dish you finish first will sit around getting cold while you work on the ones that take longer. A warming drawer lets you get dishes out of the way as soon as you finish them while keeping them warm and ready for serving. If you're a fan of the Great British Baking Show, you can also use your warming drawer as a proofing drawer to let bread doughs rise.

        3. A Produce Washing Station
          You can wash your fruits and vegetables in the sink, but that's the same place where you're putting your dirty dishes. If you happen to drop something, it will end up even dirtier than it was. Consider installing a second, smaller sink off to the side, just for washing produce. It will help keep your prep work separate from your cleanup and keep your food a lot cleaner and more sanitary.

        4. Lighting
          There are three types of light you want in the kitchen. Ambient light is like what you have in every other room - a simple overhead fixture to illuminate the room in general. Accent lighting adds more illumination to a specific area of the kitchen. If you have a kitchen island, you may want a light above it to turn on when the family is sitting around it to eat. Finally, task lighting is a direct light that shines on a particular workspace to help give you a better view of what you're doing. You may have a task light above the counter for when you chop vegetables or above the stovetop to help you see what's on the back burner. 

        5. Storage
          There's nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than having to take apart an entire cupboard to find the one pot or pan you're looking for. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to make container storage more convenient. Install a few sturdy hooks a couple of feet above the stove, and hang your pots and pans from them for easy access. You can add extra shelving to the kitchen walls, too. Try putting in a single shelf, right at eye level, that goes all the way around the kitchen. Use it for herbs, spices, flour, sugar, and other non-perishable ingredients that you want at hand. It will make things easier to find and make cooking easier and quicker.

        These are just a few of the ways you can update the kitchen in your new home. Whether you want to add a few finishing touches or a complete remodel, our real estate agents can help you find the best way to make your new kitchen your own. Contact us and let us help you find the perfect house for you.


        6 Tips for Upcycling Furniture

        Furniture Tips

        Keep your furniture out of the landfill and revamp your home's look by upcycling some of your existing pieces. Upcycling your furniture is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing new furniture. Our real estate agents know that strategically adding a few upcycled pieces to your home can help it appeal to potential buyers. Here are some tips to follow to help you get started. 

        1. Start with a Clean Slate
          Before you start your project, it's essential to properly prepare your furniture. You want your furniture as clean as possible so that your new paint or stain doesn't have dust mixed in. While furniture polish works well for removing small amounts of dirt and grime, an oil soap designed for cleaning furniture is effective on even the thickest layers of filth. 
        1. Gather All Your Supplies
          Gather everything that you need to upcycle your furniture beforehand. This includes items like tools, new hardware, paint or stain, paint brushes, cleaning supplies, sandpaper, and dropcloths for your workspace. Make sure to order extra paint, stain, or fabric in case you have a mishap. 
        1. Be Realistic with Your Capabilities
          If you're a novice when it comes to DIY, select a project that's suited to your abilities. It's fine to try to learn a new skill, but start small so that you don't get frustrated or overwhelmed. For example, instead of upholstering your whole couch, start with your dining room chairs. Paint old furniture with chalkboard paint that's forgiving, requires minimal surface preparation and is easy to work with instead of opting for a product that states you have to sand and prep the surface. Make sure to allocate ample time for your project. You may want to revamp a few pieces before adding your home to the inventory of Houma homes for sale; if so, schedule in more time than you think you'll need to see that the pieces are done in time. 
        1. Stick with Durable Pieces
          When you're choosing a piece of furniture to upcycle, avoid selecting pieces produced from cheap, flimsy particleboard. Particleboard simply isn't strong enough to withstand extensive sanding and cutting. Instead, choose furniture crafted from wood. Wood pieces have longevity, and they can stand up to a little demo work. You have a lot of options for overhauling the look of wood furniture, including paint, stain, or even wallpaper. Lacking sturdy furniture around your home? Try a thrift store or yard sale to pick up pieces at budget-friendly prices. 
        1. Think Outside the Box
          While you may envision furniture when planning your upcycling projects, it's also possible to upcycle smaller household items. Glass jars are an excellent alternative to repurpose for additional storage; clean the jar out well with soap and use nail polish to eradicate any sticky residue from the label. Use your old suitcase to create a new bookcase or coffee table. Give an old picture frame a fresh coat of paint and turn it into a makeup or jewelry tray. 
        1. Invest in Quality Material
          It's a smart idea to spend a little extra money on the materials for your project. A cheap paintbrush will result in uneven coats and potentially leave bristles on your furniture. A high-quality paint will ensure you have even coverage that won't chip or fade. 

        Is it time to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!


        Helpful Tips for Installing a Sprinkler System

        Sprinkler SystemIn-ground automatic sprinklers play an important role in maintaining a high-quality lawn. Evenly distributing water across your landscaping at certain intervals throughout the day helps promote healthy grass, great-looking shrubs, and beautiful flowers. Using a sprinkler system is much more efficient than manually watering your plants each day. However, installing sprinkler systems isn't always easy. If you're planning to install your own system, below are some tips to help guide you through the process.

        1. Mark Your Pipe And Sprinkler Heads 
          The first step is determining your ideal irrigation plan. The right distribution of water at the proper intervals is critical for maintaining a healthy lawn. If you need some guidance, our real estate agents can refer a number of professional landscapers that can help.

          Once you've determined your plan, you'll need to mark the locations of your planned sprinklers with stakes or flags. Then, use string to mark the locations of your pipes.

        2. Dig Trenches
          After you've mapped out your pipe and sprinkler heads, you'll need to dig trenches 6 to 12 inches deep. The actual size will depend on the size of your pipe. Make sure to allow for more than enough room as you don't want to end up with exposed pipes in your yard. When digging trenches, we recommend placing soil on one side and sod on the other. It's usually easiest to rent a power trencher as digging manually can take quite some time.

        3. Connect Your Water System
          The next step is hooking up your sprinkler system to your water supply. The easiest thing to do is to connect your system directly to a spigot (you can also connect to your main water line if necessary, but this work may be best suited for a plumber). When connecting to a spigot, you'll need to shut off your water supply. Then, swap out the original spigot with a brass tee. After that, you'll need to match the outlets with the faucet and irrigation pipe and connect them by fitting the short pipe with threads into the tee stem. 

        4. Install Valve Manifold and Lay The Pipe
          Next, in order to install the valve manifold, create a hole that is just big enough to hold the valve manifold box. Then, attach the water supply to one end of the manifold. Afterward, lay your PVC pipe along your trenches and your sprinkler heads at the designated markers.

        5. Assemble Your Pieces
          Begin at your first sprinkler and assemble your pipes and pieces (except for the sprinkler heads). Connect the parts at each sprinkler location. It's easy for dirt to find its way into your pipes, so you'll want to adequately flush your pipes by turning your water on and opening up each value. Be sure to close each valve before moving on to the next one. After you've flushed out the entire system, you can attach your sprinkler heads.

        6. Connect The Wiring
          Lastly, place the programmable timer on the wall and wire the connection box. If you're not experienced working with wires or electricity, it's a good idea to consult an electrician. You'll need to attach your 24-volt wires to the timer terminal. After the wiring is set up, you can set the timer to match your desired irritation plan.

        After you've connected the wiring, then you can test your system and fill your trenches.

        Many owners of these Lafayette homes for sale use a good sprinkler system to maintain beautiful-looking lawns. For more lawn care tips, contact us today.


        Don't Forget These Home Maintenance Tasks

        DIY Houma Tips

        As spring rolls into summer, it's time to roll up the shirt sleeves and get some of those home maintenance tasks out of the way before it gets too hot. Some chores are probably obvious, such as changing the filters in the HVAC system, but our real estate agents want to call attention to some often neglected areas for the benefit of newer homeowners. A few extra precautions can save you thousands of dollars in repairs you never have to make!

        1. Inspect the Roof
          This doesn't have to be a do-it-yourself task. If you aren't sure what to look for or aren't comfortable climbing on the roof, call a professional roofer. It's important to make sure no tiles are damaged or loose, so the roof is sound before hurricane season. Mildew or algae can be treated with a mixture of equal parts bleach and water. Gaps around vents and skylights should be corrected.
        2. Repair Cracks in Walkways and Driveways
          Winter weather can wreak havoc on concrete. Use concrete crack filler and sealant to fill in all cracks to end water damage. An alternative material is silicone caulk. For small cracks, concrete resurfacers without gravel will suffice. For larger or deeper areas, your best bet is a mix of standard concrete and gravel.

        3. Check Faucets and Pipes for Leaks
          While freezing weather is rare in Louisiana, even occasional events can mean cracks and leaks. You can check outside faucets by sticking your finger in the outside spigot and turning the water on. If water continues to flow around your finger, there is probably no pipe damage. But if you can block it completely, there is a good chance a pipe is broken. In that case, call a plumber immediately to avoid additional problems. 

        4. Inspect Home Safety Equipment
          Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Install carbon monoxide detectors if you don't have them, or replace batteries. Establish a small storage container with emergency lighting and flashlights. Make sure they are all functional with fresh batteries. Consider including a small butane-fueled cooking stove to heat water or meals in case you are without power for any significant amount of time. 

        5. Drain the Water Heater
          Sediment collects in the bottom of the tank, clogging pipes and interfering with heating efficiency. At best, the water heater will have to work harder to generate heat, causing you to experience higher gas or electric bills than necessary. At worst, the sediment can cause pipes to burst, water pressure to drop, and perhaps complete appliance failure. A water heater should be flushed at least every two years or each year in hard water zones. The useful life of a gas water heater is 8-12 years or 10-15 years for an electric. Proper maintenance makes the difference. 

        6. Inspect the Exterior of the House
          Termites and rodents leave clues to their presence in cracks in the walls, blistered paint, mud tubes, and gnawed materials. Both pests are deadly enemies to the health of your home. Don't try to eliminate the problem on your own. Signs of these creatures calls for a professional exterminator to tackle the problem. Don't wait, as they cause horrific damage in a short period of time. While you're at it, check gutters and downspouts for clogging debris and any signs of standing water. 

                  While homeownership does bring the added responsibilities of maintenance, the many stunning Houma homes for sale are well worth the added efforts. Contact us today to find the house you'll want to call your home. 


                  Get an Organized Kitchen with These Tips

                  Organized Kitchen Tips

                  Even the most up-to-date kitchen can get cluttered! Not only is kitchen clutter unsightly, but it can hinder your cooking and food prep. How about taking fearless stock of all that stuff on your countertops and reducing it by half or more? Give it away; recycle it; sell it in a garage sale. Before listing your home among the Alexandria homes for sale, make sure your kitchen is neat and organized. Follow these tips.

                  1. Declutter Your Counters
                    Put away pots and pans, dishes, boxes of tea and cereal, all those things you think you need to sit on the countertop so you can get at it quickly. Fill up a couple of boxes with the excess, then give it away to a local nonprofit. Haven't used those old mugs or extra salt and pepper shakers in six months? Say farewell. 

                  2. Take Stock of Your Pantry
                    Check the expiration date on your pantry items and toss away all expired items. Organize the remainder. Put items that insects can invade in plastic containers, marking them clearly with name and expiration date. You might try adding some organizers to hold small items or hang a shelf rack on the door to make more room in the pantry.

                  3. Organize Cleaning Cloths
                    Toss any old, worn out, or stained cleaning cloths and rags. Organize those you want to hold onto in a container, making sure they are clean and folded for easy use. Be sure to use these rags as often as is appropriate so you can cut down on paper towel use.

                  4. Stack Cookware
                    Instead of giving each pot or pan its own individual space in the cabinet, use a stacking system, separating pots with pot protectors. These will prolong the life of your cookware.

                  5. Consider Your Workflow
                    Maybe the blender and toaster should go next to each other instead of being stowed away in the cabinet. Or, your favorite knife could be affixed by means of a magnetic strip to the wall in the back of the stove. Perhaps the flatware should go in a caddy (organized by kind), so it's easy to grab and set the table. Rethink your whole kitchen as if you were a time/motion expert, and you're seeking to maximize space and the effort you put into kitchen tasks.

                  6. Clean Your Fridge
                    It's easy for things to get out of hand in the fridge. To keep clutter down, check every day for food that's no longer usable and toss it or put it in the compost pile. Avoid just shoving jars or containers with aging contents back to the back and then forgetting about them. Take them out, and get rid of the contents without delay. You'll find you always have more room and can organize your fridge better if you do this daily. 

                  Our real estate agents have many tips to help you get your house ready for listing. Contact us today. 


                  8 Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring Contractors

                  Contractor Questions

                  Whether you're tackling a home renovation or building a new home from the ground up, working with a good contractor is essential for a good outcome. At Latter & Blum, our real estate agents understand what it takes to create beautiful Lafayette homes for sale with features that attract buyers. Before you hire a contractor, it's important to ask questions that separate the pros from the rest of the pack.

                  1. Are you a licensed contractor?
                    Most states require licensed general contractors to register with the state where they do business. A license shows that the contractor has passed certain tests that examine state laws and building requirements. In Louisiana, you can search online for licensed contractors on the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website.

                  2. How long have you been in business?
                    The number of years in business equates to professional experience and a good track record with clients. Contractors who lack work skills, experience, and satisfied clients don't stay in business very long. A long list of clients and a successful track record indicates a contractor who listens to clients, gets jobs finished on time and stays within the budget.

                  3. Are you insured?
                    Generally, a professional licensed contractor carries liability insurance, as well as workers' compensation insurance for workers. During an interview, ask for proof of insurance to verify coverage and liability limits. If a contractor isn't properly insured, you could be liable for accidents and injuries that occur on your property, as well damage if something goes wrong on your project.

                  4. How much will my project cost?
                    Prior to starting your home project, you should have a discussion with your contractor to clarify project tasks, details, and costs. A professional contractor should give you a written proposal that outlines work to be done, material costs, and labor costs. Read the proposal carefully before signing it, because it will serve as a legal agreement between you and the contractor.

                  5. How long will my project take?
                    The timeline of a home project from start to finish is important, because you may not be able to access certain areas while construction in underway. It's especially important if you have a busy household with children and pets or work from home on a regular basis. To ensure the timeline is met, ask your contractor to note a start date and completion date in your proposal agreement.

                  6. What is your payment schedule?
                    To properly budget for your project, talk to your contractor about payment terms and schedules before construction begins. The Better Business Bureau advises against paying in full upfront, and reputable contractors should not ask. Typically, an upfront payment is 30% to 50% of the project costs with additional payments in bi-weekly or monthly amounts until completion.

                  7. How will you handle clean-up?
                    A professional contractor will make sure that his/her crew takes care of daily clean-up duties such as removing trash and debris, putting away tools, and leaving areas in the house clean and clutter-free. If tools or equipment need to be stored on your property, a designated area should be discussed.

                  8. What's the best way to reach you?
                    At the beginning of your project, make sure you get your contractor's contact information including a business address, business or cell phone number, and normal work hours. If a contractor is hesitant to give you contact information, look elsewhere for someone who's more professional.

                  If you're interested in buying or selling in the area, contact us for more information. We can help you with your real estate needs and make sure your results are successful.


                  Toss These Items While Spring Cleaning

                  Spring Cleaning Baton Rouge

                  Spring is the perfect time to conquer your to-do list and get ahead on your cleaning and household maintenance chores. While you're working, take a few moments to declutter items from your home that you no longer need or use.

                  Our real estate agents know that decluttering is a simple way to help a home appear larger and more appealing to potential homebuyers. Here are some items to toss as you make your way through your spring cleaning to-do list. 

                  1. Expired Medication
                    When tidying your medicine cabinet, take a moment to check the dates on your medication and ointments to ensure that you're not holding onto expired products. Over time, the chemical composition of medication changes. These changes mean that the medication may not work as well at treating or managing your symptoms. 
                  1. Old or Unmatched Tupperware
                    Over time, Tupperware becomes less sturdy. This makes it more likely to break, crack, or potentially leach chemicals into your food. Dispose of any Tupperware that appears worn, damaged, cloudy, or warped. Check that all of your remaining pieces have a matching lid and are in a size and shape that you'll regularly use. 
                  1. Old or Extra Cables
                    It's not uncommon for the average household to accumulate an astonishing collection of charging cords and USB cables. Spend some time confirming that you know what each individual type of power cord or cable goes to. If necessary, label it so that you know what it goes to. For more multifunctional cables, like USB and Apple cords, keep only a reasonable amount for the number of devices you have. Throw away any cords or cables that are frayed, worn, or damaged. 
                  1. Old Paperwork and Papers
                    Keep your filing cabinets in order by getting rid of old papers. Most information, like a credit card, utility, and bank statements, is available online. There's little reason to keep a slew of paper copies on hand. Get rid of old manuals and instructions. Many companies now have their instruction manuals online if an issue does arise. You should also sort through more sentimental items, like old greeting cards, school work, and programs. Keep only a few items that have significant meaning and store them in a dedicated container or scrapbook. 
                  1. Outdated or Seldom Used Electronics
                    If your old VCR or small kitchen appliance is used primarily as a paperweight, it's time to throw it out. Remove anything that you haven't used in the past year. Make sure to also get rid of any accessories, like VHS tapes or appliance attachments. When preparing to explore Baton Rouge homes for sale, you'll appreciate having less stuff to move when you find your ideal home. 
                  1. Worn-Out Towels
                    When your towels wear thin or become riddled with strings, it's time to let them go. Old towels aren't nearly as efficient at drying, and the rough fabric is sure to provide an uncomfortable drying experience. See that you also go through your washcloths, hand towels, and cleaning rags. 
                  1. Board Games with Missing Pieces or Those That You Seldom Play
                    If you've been holding onto board games with missing pieces, either reorder the missing pieces or throw the game out. Some manufacturers do allow you to order only the pieces or cards that come with games. Donate any games that your family doesn't enjoy playing.

                  Feel like your family needs more space? Contact us today to check out your options!


                  Best Paint Color Options for Your Home Office

                  Home Office

                  Choosing paint colors for your home office is about more than just aesthetics and interior decor. The colors you choose can actually have an impact on your work habits. Whether you spend just a few hours a week in your home office or work from home regularly, set yourself up for success with the right decor. Here are a few common home office colors we see in Lafayette homes for sale and how they can benefit your work habits.

                  1. Blue 
                    Blue is famous for being a soothing color, so if you struggle with anxiety during your workday, try combating that with lots of blue. The shade of blue you choose can range from a low-distraction blue-gray to an intensely introspective dark blue. Choose a shade that works well with your goals when you work from home.

                  2. Pinks and Reds
                    You may have heard that red is an energizing color, but the truth goes somewhat deeper than that. They may seem like an unlikely choice for your office walls, but shades of pink, coral, peach, and red can boost creativity. If you work at a creative job from your home office, painting your walls in one of these shades may lend energy and inspiration to your day.

                  3. Yellow 
                    Another color that seems unlikely due to how bright it is, yellow can actually help you work by energizing you. Yellow is a cheerful color that may help to brighten a difficult workday or invigorate your work mood. Yellow also comes in various shades, from colors so pale that they're almost cream to bright, bold tones.

                  4. Gray
                    If staying focused is your struggle, opt for a soft neutral such as gray. Grays can lean toward bluish tones, which will also help to soothe, or brighter grays for energy, depending on the mood you want to strike in your home office. Gray is also a great neutral color, which our real estate agents recommend if you are planning on selling the house soon.

                  5. White
                    While it might seem overly sterile in the rest of the house, white can actually create a better workspace by minimizing distractions around you while you work. It also mimics the feel of a corporate office, helping you stay focused and providing a place to put whiteboards and other tools to aid you in your work. This is also a good neutral tone to use if you're planning to sell the house soon.

                  The color you paint your home office walls can impact how you work, but it can also affect how your house sells, so it's important to know your goals before picking up a paintbrush. Buyers tend to gravitate toward neutral tones because they can more easily imagine themselves living in a home that isn't decorated with someone else's favorite colors. For painting tips and other easy ideas for making your house stand out, contact us today.


                  5 Ways to Make Your Home a Standout This Spring

                  Lake Charles Sell Your Home

                  Spring has arrived, making it the perfect time to tackle your home to-do list. Whether you have plans to contact our real estate agents and put your home on the market or just want to get your home looking its best, a few chores will help your home stand out. Here are some tasks to ensure your home is appealing to visitors and potential buyers. 

                  1. Declutter Your Home
                    Most likely, spring cleaning is on your to-do list. Before you get started, spend some time purging your home of items that you no longer use, need, or that just don't fit your lifestyle. The fewer items in your home, the larger it will appear when you add it to the list of Lake Charles homes for sale. You'll also have fewer items to clean. If your plans do involve selling your home, take decluttering a step farther. You'll want to remove items that are overly personal, like framed photos, bulletin boards, custom knickknacks, awards, magazines, and most toys. There are a few options for handling these items. One solution is to box these items up and rent a storage unit to house them until you've sold your home. Another possibility is to store them in your attic, basement, or shed; just make sure the space appears neat and uncluttered if you opt for this method. 
                  1. Wash or Paint Your Walls
                    If your walls are in neutral hues and the paint is in good condition, you may be able to refresh them by washing them. You can wash your walls using warm water mixed with a quarter-teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Use a microfiber cloth to gently scrub your walls with the solution. However, if your walls have a lot of dents and dings or you want to change the paint color, it's time for a fresh paint job. A new paint job will also help your home look clean and crisp with potential buyers. 
                  1. Get Your Landscaping a Facelift
                    Check that your home is ready to greet prospective buyers by enhancing its curb appeal. Mow your grass (and bag your clippings), pull any weeds, and remove any dead or dying vegetation. If your flower beds are bare, add some colorful flowers and shrubs to brighten them up. Get your home and driveway looking their best by pressure-washing them. 
                  1. Complete Minor Repairs
                    Typically, you don't want to embark on major renovations before putting your home on the market. However, it's a smart idea to take care of minor repairs so that your home appears well-maintained. Make sure that none of your faucets drip and that your lights, showers, and appliances are all functional. Replace any broken or worn-out hardware.
                  1. Rearrange Your Furniture
                    Rearrange your furniture so that your home is staged to maximize its appeal. A potential buyer should be able to see the utility of every space. No room or area should be left without a function. When moving furniture, leave a few inches between the furniture and the wall; this will help the room look larger and prevent the room from appearing cramped. 

                  Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!


                  The Do's and Don'ts of Making an Accent Wall

                  Accent Wall Tips

                  If your home's decor feels a little generic or looks too sparse for your tastes, consider painting an accent wall. An accent wall lends a pop of color to your space and helps you customize the style of your home. Our real estate agents know that an accent wall is often beneficial for staging your home when you put it on the market. Follow these do's and don'ts when adding an accent wall. 

                  1. Do Embrace Bold Colors
                    Since an accent wall is meant to stand out, it's best to utilize a bold color. Even if you prefer neutrals or are trying to stick with colors that will appeal to homebuyers looking for Alexandria homes for sale, it's fine to embrace a darker hue. Just make sure that the color you select will complement the decor and furnishings in the room. 
                  1. Do Pick the Right Wall
                    Before you buy your paint, make sure you pick out the best wall for your project. In general, you'll want to avoid areas with a lot of windows, a door, or a large fireplace. These items tend to "cut" your accent wall, making it look choppy and disjointed. The wall needs to be large enough to stand out so that it appears like a purposeful addition to the room. 
                  1. Do Choose a Shade That Compliments Your Other Walls
                    As you peruse potential shades for your accent wall, check that your hue suits your other paint colors. Otherwise, you risk picking a shade that's too "warm" or "cool" for your other walls. An accent wall often compliments walls painted in light or medium hues the best. 
                  1. Don't Limit Your Options
                    Don't feel like your only option is to paint an accent wall. There are multiple gorgeous alternatives for your space, including wallpaper, tile, stone, or painted shiplap. Just make sure that whichever material you select looks cohesive with the rest of the room. 
                  1. Don't Be Afraid to Get Creative
                    Can't pick out the right wall for your accent wall? Make your ceiling your accent wall! Painting your ceiling an eye-catching color is a trendy way to incorporate an accent wall into areas with minimal wall space. Should you opt to paint your ceiling, consider adding crown molding to the room. This will help break up the ceiling from the walls and even make the room appear larger. 
                  1. Don't Pick a Room That's Already "Busy"
                    If a potential room already has a lot going on, you may want to forgo an accent wall. The addition of an accent wall can make the space look busy and cluttered. For this reason, it's tricky and incorporating an accent wall into a kitchen, just because this space already has a lot of things in it.

                  Interested in a home with more space? Contact us today to start your search!


                  DIY Projects That Increase Your Home's Value

                  DIY Projects for Home Value Increase

                  Renovations and keeping your home up-to-date can increase your home's value, not to mention it's a lot more fun to live in an updated house and enjoy those renovations while you live there. But not everyone has money to throw into a renovation, especially if you're planning on moving out afterward. Fortunately, there are many low-budget DIY projects you can do to increase your home's value. Here are a few easy upgrades our real estate agents recommend to get you started.

                  1. Add light.
                    A well-lit home shows better than a poorly lit home. Updating your light fixtures is a fairly easy upgrade you can do on your home with just a few tools and a little basic electrical know-how. Replace those vintage light fixtures with better, brighter ones. You might also look into updating your light switches to smart switches or installing dimmers to allow more control over lighting options. And while we're on the subject of lighting, if you're going to be listing your home for sale, be sure to clean the windows, both inside and out!

                  2. Give your kitchen cabinets a face-up.
                    Our agents have noticed that Baton Rouge homes for sale with updated kitchens are quick to get a buyer's attention! Not everyone has the money for a kitchen renovation, but you can freshen your kitchen's look with some paint, new matching hardware, and a weekend of your time. If you are selling the home, make sure to choose a fairly neutral color scheme. A new set of modern, matching hardware will put the finishing touches on your kitchen's new look. For extra style points, look into updating your sink and faucet, too.

                  3. Refresh your bathroom.
                    Just like kitchens, updated bathrooms can make a huge difference to a buyer. Repainting your cabinets and replacing the cabinet hardware is a good place to start. Bathrooms are just as likely as kitchens to have outdated plumbing fixtures, so consider replacing them with something more attractive and modern. If your bathroom's mirror and lighting aren't good, look into replacements for these as well. These are all fairly affordable projects that are easy to do yourself and can give your bathroom a brand-new look without the expense of a full renovation.

                  4. Maximize your closet space.
                    Storage space is another concern for you if you continue living in the house and for any potential buyers when you sell. Older homes tend to have fairly basic closets, but that single bar and shelf may be hiding a lot of wasted storage space. Look into a DIY closet shelving with adjustable shelving and other options to help you make the most of your storage space. If you're planning on selling the home, make sure you also declutter and put stuff into storage for staging, as a closet that's only partially full looks much bigger than one that's jam-packed!

                  5. Boost curb appeal.
                    Finally, don't forget the importance of first impressions. There are several easy DIY you can do that will dramatically improve your home's curb appeal, which is especially important if you're going to sell. Consider giving your door, the trim around it, and the porch a fresh coat of paint. Decorate that area around the door with planters. A little time spent on the landscaping wouldn't go amiss, either, particularly the part of the yard visible from the street.

                  Making a few choice updates can make a surprising difference in your home's value. Contact us today, and one of our agents will help you decide what DIY projects to focus on.


                  Surprising Things That Can Decrease Your Property Value

                  Property Value Tips

                  Purchasing a new home is one of the biggest life decisions you can make, so learning how to protect your investment is an essential part of homeownership. However, many buyers aren't aware of all of the factors that can impact what your home is actually worth. Luckily, our real estate agents are familiar with the little things that can make a home sell for far less than market value. While some may seem obvious, others are not.

                  If you're in the market for a new home, keep in mind the following factors that can actually decrease a property's value.

                  1. Bad Neighbors
                    Unfortunately, many people don't realize they have bad neighbors until well after they move in. If your neighbors are noisy or disruptive, it can have a major impact on your quality of life and your home's value. Also, your neighbor can drag down your property value right alongside their own property value if they fail to maintain their home and lawn.

                  2. Proximity To Certain Types of Businesses
                    A home's proximity to certain types of buildings or businesses can certainly diminish its overall value. There are certain types of businesses people generally don't like to live by, such as power plants and cemeteries. Living near a hospital can actually hurt your home value as well due to constant traffic and sirens. Be sure to think twice about a home that is situated near an unappealing business.

                  3. Your Address Suffix
                    Did you know fancy-sounding address suffixes are actually associated with higher property values? If your address ends in a less-typical suffix, such as boulevard, place, or way, this could actually help boost your property value. On the other hand, common suffixes like drive or street may actually have the opposite effect.

                  4. The Appearance Of Your Lawn
                    If lawn care isn't your forte, it's best to hire a landscaper. Overgrown grass, weeds, and unkempt trees can not only diminish your curb appeal but can also drag down property values across the entire neighborhood. Trees that are too close to the home can also be a big turnoff for future homebuyers. For some examples of well-maintained lawns, check out these New Orleans homes for sale for inspiration.

                  5. History of Crime
                    If a property played host to a particular newsworthy crime, it would likely sell for far less than market value. Many people are reluctant to live in a home where a tragedy occurred.

                  6. Billboards
                    A billboard visible from your lawn or property can actually bring down your home value by tens of thousands of dollars. Many people don't want to be forced to see a paid advertisement every time they leave the house, especially if the billboard is known to display ads for unappealing products.

                  7. Proximity to Train Tracks & Power Lines
                    Living near train tracks means that you'll likely have to deal with loud noises at all hours of the day, which is often a deterrent for potential homebuyers. By the same token, power lines also can create unpleasant buzzing noises, and not to mention they're unattractive. 

                  Being aware of factors that can adversely impact your home value is important. Contact us today for more information!


                  Try These Tricks for Repairing and Caulking Baseboards

                  Caulking Baseboards Tips

                  Baseboards help give your home a neat, finished appearance, but they can often develop cracks and gaps at the top or bottom as well as other appearance issues. In addition to making your home look less than its best, these flaws can allow drafts to enter your home. They also serve as dust-collecting crevices that make it more difficult to keep your baseboards clean.

                  Caulk, which is flexible, can dry out over time, and become cracked. Fortunately, fixing the problem is a great DIY project that can be taken care of in an afternoon. Our real estate agents share the following tips and tricks for repairing and caulking baseboards:

                  • Get the right supplies   
                    You'll need the following supplies before starting your project:
                    - paintable silicone caulk made for trim
                    - caulking tool
                    - caulk scraper
                    - plastic putty knife
                    - scissors or utility knife
                    - sandpaper
                    - painting supplies (paintbrush/roller/tape)
                    - denatured alcohol

                  • Scrape off the old caulk  
                    Use your caulk scraper to remove the old caulk. Clean up any residue left by the old caulk using denatured alcohol on a paper towel. Rub it along the areas where you removed the caulk, and let it dry completely. Then smooth the surface by using sandpaper.

                  • Use painting tape   
                    If you haven't done much caulking, apply specialty tape for multi-surfaces neatly and directly above and below the area you're caulking. This will ensure you get clean, crisp lines.

                  • Get your caulking gun ready    
                    Cut the tip of your caulking gun at a 45-degree angle using scissors or a utility knife. Make the hole in the tip only as large as the area you'll be filling so too much caulk won't come out as you're using the gun. Put the tip of the caulk tube into the gun and push the plunger back. Squeeze the trigger several times before you begin.

                  • Apply new caulk   
                    Start at one end of the wall, putting the tip of the caulk tube against the gap you're filling. Squeeze the caulk gun's trigger slowly as you pull the gun along the wall, so you get a thin bead of caulk. Go several feet before wiping off the excess with your index finger.

                  • Remove the tape    
                    While the caulk is still wet, peel off the tape.

                  For a small investment of time and money, you can give your home a more finished appearance by repairing and caulking its baseboards. Consider checking for cracks if you're selling your home since they can make your home look unfinished. This project will pay off whether you're planning to stay in your home for a while or are ready to sell and are looking to make improvements.

                  Contact us to find out more home improvements that can make your house stand out from other Lafayette homes for sale


                  5 Signs it's Time to Upgrade Your Kitchen

                  Upgrade Your Kitchen

                  The kitchen is often called the heart of the home since it serves as a gathering place for family and friends. It's used every day, multiple times a day, so it's important to make the room look its best while being highly functional. This is true whether you're planning to live in your current home for a while or you want to move since an appealing kitchen is especially important to homebuyers.

                  Our real estate agents share these 5 signs it's time to upgrade your kitchen:

                  1. You don't have enough storage and counter space.
                    If your kitchen always feels crowded and messy – no matter how you struggle to find a place for everything and keep it organized – you probably lack sufficient storage and counter space. This problem also causes meal preparation to become a challenge since you don't have enough workspace. Upgrading your kitchen to add extra cabinets and counter space can make your kitchen look much neater while making it easier to use.

                  2. Your appliances are outdated.  
                    As you've replaced appliances over time, you may have ended up with mismatched colors and surfaces that don't add up to a clean, cohesive look for your kitchen. Older appliances could also be costing you money each month because they probably use more energy to keep them running. Newer appliances are generally more energy-efficient and can help you save on your power bill. Over time, energy-efficient appliances can pay for themselves since they help you save money month after month.

                  3. The layout is inefficient.  
                    A poor layout makes a kitchen more difficult to use. The floor space between your stove, sink, and refrigerator is particularly important since a poor layout between these essential elements can make your kitchen difficult to navigate as you cook and clean. You may also find that as you open your cabinet doors, refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven, you end up bumping into another part of your kitchen behind you. If that's the case, upgrading your kitchen to reconfigure its layout is definitely warranted.

                  4. You can never get it truly clean.
                    Cleanliness is essential in the kitchen, so if you scrub and mop but can't make your kitchen sparkle, it's time for a change. Peeling or stained countertops, cracked porcelain sinks, and cracked linoleum with dirt in its crevices can all harbor dirt and bacteria while making your kitchen look dull and grimy. Replacing them using new materials such as hardwood flooring and granite or quartz countertops can make your kitchen much easier to keep sanitary and will hold up better over time.

                  5. Its lighting is poor.
                    Even if your kitchen is designed well, it can look gloomy without the right lighting. Determine what natural light your kitchen has and fill in the gaps with artificial lighting, taking into account that even the best natural light doesn't last throughout the entire day. You'll also need to add task lighting in areas like under countertops and pendant lights over spaces like a kitchen island. Finally, adding some decorative lighting to your kitchen can provide a touch of personality.

                  Contact us to find out more ways to upgrade your home, whether you're planning to stay in it awhile or would like to move. As you look at Baton Rouge homes for sale, upgrading areas such as your kitchen can make your home more appealing to potential buyers.


                  7 Tips for Getting Your Home Sparkling Clean

                  Home Cleaning Latter

                  With the holidays behind us, now is the perfect time to start the New Year off with a sparkling clean home. Our real estate agents suggest that homeowners create a four-seasons checklist to keep the home clean and maintained year-round. Here are seven simple tips for getting your home as clean as possible this winter.

                  1. Make a list, check it twice
                    It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many homeowners don't create and follow a cleaning checklist. With so much to get done, even in a single room, creating and maintaining a checklist is vital. You'll likely add items to the list as you move from room to room, too. We suggest breaking the chores down by room so you can finish a space before moving to the next area.

                  2. Beware of bugs
                    As you dig out warm clothing and holiday decorations, don't be surprised to find a few insects making their way into your home as well. While you should always be detailed in your cleaning routine, we recommend being proactive in your defense against bugs. Call a pest control specialist to spray your interior and exterior, warding off intruders before they become unwanted guests.

                  3. Focus on indoor living spaces
                    Granted, you always spend time inside, but many homeowners tend to enjoy the indoors more during the colder months. That means that everything from couches and kitchens get used more frequently. Make sure you're cleaning these spaces a little deeper. For example, remove and wash pillowcases or couch cushions, empty and wash your refrigerator, and use a carpet cleaner to wash your rugs and carpets thoroughly.

                  4. Clean around heat sources
                    Even if you'll only use them a handful of times in the winter, it's vital that you keep the areas in and around your fireplace, furnace, radiator, or other heating sources clean. Even something as small as lint from clothing can ignite and potentially cause a fire. Keeping all heating sources clean, as well as professionally serviced and maintained, is essential for homeowners.

                  5. Wash interior window panes
                    There are many areas of the home that are easy to neglect, and interior windows are among the easiest. Homeowners often make sure the window panes' exterior side is washed, but forget that the interior panes also collect dust and fingerprints. Add washing your interior window panes to your cleaning list in the winter to help the sun's rays naturally warm your home (and lower your heating bill).

                  6. Don't neglect seasonal spaces
                    Although you may not be using certain areas of your home like patios or pools, don't neglect these spaces. They may not need a thorough cleaning, but it's wise to give them a quick once over so that any areas that need to be addressed don't linger until the warm weather arrives.

                  7. Consider ditching clutter
                    People and possessions often start to pile up in your home during the holiday season. Consider taking this opportunity to declutter your home so that it's easier to keep clean. Throw away, sell, or donate old items to make room for new ones. This includes any holiday decorations that never seem to get much use year after year.

                  Are you cleaning up in hopes of selling your house? Let us help you find a new place to live. Contact us today to tour our Baton Rouge homes for sale.


                  A New Year's Eve Home Makeover, Straight From The Pros

                  After a year of uncertainty and wide-swinging emotions, the arrival of New Year's Eve means all sorts of good things: Celebration, Closure, the distinctive Clink of Champagne glasses. Although it's been hard to find a silver lining this year, if there's one good thing that's come from being quarantined, it's the fact that we are being forced to slow down, reflect and get reacquainted with our homes. With that in mind, Latter & Blum Realtors share the hottest home decorating trends to ring in the New Year.

                  High Style Accessories
                  For living rooms, we are seeing comfortable, plush seating with rich tones and layered styling. Thanks to all of the virtual meetings while working from home, your home background is now more important than ever and accessorizing and styling are finally getting the credit they deserve. We see accessorizing becoming bolder, more artful and more personal in 2021. 
                  Cindy Bailey, Latter & Blum Realtor 

                  Multifunctional Spaces
                  Workspaces have drastically changed this year and more people are opting to take back wasted space in their home offices. A closet can easily be combined with an office, since both spaces are able to disappear behind doors when not in use. A flexible workspace and fashion-forward decor help to blend these two functions seamlessly into a space that is both inspiring and productive.
                  Erynn Patania, Latter & Blum Realtor

                  Biophilia first hit the headlines back in 2018 and is one trend that's here to stay, especially when more people are inclined to stay home in 2021. Propelled by the sustainable living movement, homeowners have been upping their eco-credentials by filling their homes with an eclectic assortment of trailers, climbers and bloomers. From macramé pot holders to vertical gardens, biophilia is one trend that's here to stay. If you don't have time for watering, go faux.
                  Lisa Thomas, Latter & Blum Realtor

                  Bold Colors Mixed With Neutrals
                  While neutral tones are still popular, bold colors are on the rise in 2021. In fact, Pantone Color chose not just one but two colors of the year for 2021 – the neutral "Ultimate Grey" paired with a lovely yellow called "Illuminating". This marriage of bold and neutral colors conveys a message of strength, warmth and hopefulness that is uplifting during these times.
                  Vickie Karamales, Latter & Blum Realtor

                  Wellness Spaces
                  Let's be honest, it's been a rough year, and we could all use a little light relief from the stresses of 2020. Little wonder then that one of this year's top trends is wellness spaces – rooms designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. From soothing neutral palettes to cozy bouclé blankets, this trend has got you covered even in the most stressful of times.
                  Team Right Side, Latter & Blum 

                  Looking to buy or sell a home in 2021? Visit for all your real estate needs.


                  How Energy-Efficient Is Your Home?

                  Energy Efficient Home

                  Though the exact amount is subject to seasonal and regional variations, the average power bill is $118 a month. You can lower your power bill by making your home more energy-efficient. Our real estate agents know that homes with energy-efficient features are also more attractive to potential buyers. Here are some guidelines to help you evaluate the energy efficiency of your home so that you can take steps to improve it. 

                  1. Look at Your Entire House
                    When you're determining how energy-efficient your home is, it's easy to get caught up on certain aspects, like your old windows or dated appliances. However, it's important to look at your entire home rather than individual components when calculating your home's energy efficiency. A home constructed with energy-efficient materials in a resourceful design won't be impacted as much by smaller details, like older windows and doors. Instead of replacing these items, it might be more cost-effective to caulk and repair any holes or cracks creating drafts. Consult with your power company to see if it offers a free energy assessment. This will help you determine what areas of your home are using the most energy and what changes you can make to conserve energy. 
                  1. See That Your Home Has Ample Insulation
                    As prospective buyers are touring Alexandria homes for sale, they're searching for properties that will minimize their future out-of-pocket expenses. If your home has ample insulation, this will lower your home's energy bills, allowing you (and your potential buyers) to lower your heating and cooling expenses. Add insulation to any areas where your home might be lacking, such as your attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Check that your doors and windows are also properly insulated. A fresh layer of weatherstripping is a quick, easy way to boost your home's energy efficiency. 
                  1. Seek Out Replacement Products with Favorable Energy Efficiency Ratings
                    If you have components in your home using or wasting excessive amounts of energy, like an old HVAC system or single-pane windows, it's wise to consider replacing them. Focus on replacing one thing at a time, and seek out replacement products with favorable energy efficiency ratings. This will make it easy for you to reduce your energy costs. Don't forget the accessories in your home! Your window draperies are a powerful tool for blocking out the sun's hot rays during the warmer months and keeping frigid drafts out during the colder months. Utilize heat-reflecting window coverings during the hot months and insulating drapes in the chilly months. 
                  1. Review Your Daily Habits
                    A few changes to your daily routine can lower your home's energy consumption. If you forget to turn your lights and electronics off, use a smart plug so that you can put them on a timer or even cut them off when you're away from home. Close your draperies on hot days, especially in windows that face the sun. Try to run only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher when possible. Use cold water, and utilize your device's moisture sensor to avoid overdrying your clothing. If you cook a lot of small meals, invest in a toaster oven or electric pan, as they use less energy than a full-size oven or stove. Check that your oven and stove are clean before using them; dirty appliances don't operate as efficiently. 

                  Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us to get started!


                  Decorating Tips for Your Front Porch

                  Houma Front Porch

                  Does your house have curb appeal? The term doesn't apply only to Houma homes for sale. When your home looks as good outside as it does inside, it projects a warm, welcoming ambiance to visitors. 

                  Dress up your front porch any time of year with these creative decorating tips from our real estate agents.

                  1. Hang a Wreath
                    There's no rule that says wreaths are only for the holidays. A charming, oversized grapevine wreath instantly transforms a front door. It can serve as a base that may be customized for different seasons and occasions.

                  2. Paint the Ceiling
                    Looking for unexpected ways to add a pop of color? A painted ceiling creates a striking visual and sets your front porch apart from others.

                  3. Lay Graphic Tiles
                    What's good for the ceiling is good for the floor. Make a statement with graphic travertine, porcelain, or slate tiles.

                  4. Incorporate Vintage Furniture
                    Vintage furniture is chic and trendy, plus it shows your commitment to eco-friendly practices. Consider classic rocking chairs or Adirondack chairs for seating. Period pieces like tables or trunks add function and beauty.

                  5. Plant a "Garden"
                    Emphasize the beauty of nature by adding flowers and green plants to your porch, which can easily accommodate pottery and containers of nearly every size and style. Take advantage of vertical space with a trellis or plant stands. Want a fun project for the kids? Start an herb garden, which will also pay off at mealtimes.

                  6. Add a Screen
                    Don't let mosquitoes or other insects prevent you from enjoying your front porch. Add a screen to keep pests out while allowing sunshine and breezes in.

                  7. Channel the Tropics
                    Island life is a timeless inspiration for outdoor decor. A color scheme of turquoise, coral, and pastel yellow conjures up views from a beach, while rattan or wicker furniture provides casual elegance.

                  8. Update Porch Swings
                    Like the idea of a traditional porch swing or glider, but want a more modern look? With a whole new range of shapes, materials, colors, and designs, today's porch swings don't bear much resemblance to the one on your grandparents' porch.

                  9. Think Minimalist
                    Porch furniture is not mandatory. Create a dramatic look by making the front door a focal point and using the rest of the porch to frame it. For example, put decorative tile down and place large matching planters on either side of the door.

                  10. Let There Be Light
                    Strategic lighting can create a mood outdoors just as easily as it does indoors. String and rope lights are easy to put up and take down, and they come in a number of different styles so you can adapt when you want to update the look. If you want something more permanent, options include sconces, lanterns, and pendant lights.

                  11. Use Throw Pillows
                    Indoors or out, throw pillows are a quick and effective way to change an entire look with little time, effort, and money.

                  12. Paint the Front Door
                    Whether you're aiming for a monochromatic effect or you want an element of bold color, a freshly-painted door immediately spruces up a front porch.

                  For more helpful tips on styling and staging a home, contact us at Latter & Blum.


                  5 Creative Ways to Add a Home Office

                   Lafayette Home Office

                  Whether you work from home full-time or sporadically need a spot to concentrate, a home office is a valuable addition to your home. If your home is lacking a space that encourages productivity, here are a few creative ways to add a home office to your property. Our real estate agents know that properties staged with a home office also show well with potential buyers. 

                  1. Set Up an Office in a Spare Closet
                    An unused closet is a perfect spot to set up a home office. Depending on the size of the closet, you might have room to add a full-size desk, or you may want to install a shelf to act as your desk. If you want to have the option to quickly hide your work, leave the door to the closet intact. When you're done working, just close the door to conceal your hard work. Or, if you prefer a more open atmosphere, remove the door. 
                  1. Partition Off Part of Your Open Concept Living Room
                    Open concept living spaces are often popular in Lafayette homes for sale for multiple reasons, one of which is their versatility. It's easy to turn a wall or corner into an office space. While you can't easily add a wall to define your workspace, a room divider is an excellent way to partition off your office so that you have a little privacy. 
                  1. Use the Space Under Your Stair
                    If you reside in a home with multiple floors, don't let the space under your stairs go to waste. Instead, set up a desk and chair in the space. Sometimes, this space might be closed off, but it's usually possible to open up the space by removing the wall.
                  1. Hide a Home Office in Your Cabinets
                    Have a few spare cabinets in your media room, mudroom, or even your kitchen? They're a fantastic spot to set up a home office! Set your computer and work supplies up inside of the cabinet and pull up your chair. You can add or remove shelving as needed so that your office suits your needs. 
                  1. Move Off-Sight to Your Storage Shed or Detached Garage
                    Maybe you need a little space from your household's activities so that you can focus; if so, consider setting up a home office in your storage shed. If your shed doesn't already have electricity, an electrician can run power to it for a reasonable cost. You'll likely need to do a little decluttering and cleaning, but you'll be left with a private, tranquil spot where you can retreat when you need silence for your work. 

                  Want to explore homes with more space? Contact us today!


                  Exterior Home Features Buyers Are Looking For

                  Exterior Home Features

                  If you're selling your home, you're probably planning to spruce up and improve its interior. While that's important, the exterior also needs attention. It's the first thing prospective buyers see, so it can either make them walk away or entice them inside to see more. And many exterior features can separate your home in a positive way from other Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                  Our real estate agents highlight some of the most popular exterior home features that buyers are looking for:

                  1. Patios    
                    You frequently hear curb appeal is important, and although it's true, that doesn't mean you should neglect your backyard area. Homebuyers look for outdoor living spaces, and they want to be able to sit outdoors and share a drink with friends. Adding an outdoor area like a patio will cost less than a large-scale home addition and appeal to buyers who envision themselves entertaining friends and family in this outdoor space. To boost your patio's appeal, add items like an outdoor fire pit with seating or a backyard wet bar.
                  2. Solar panels 
                    In certain regions, like the Baton Rouge area, solar panels are very appealing to potential buyers. That's because this region gets plenty of sunshine to generate electricity and hot temperatures that can make power bills high in the summer. A 2019 National Association of REALTORS® survey revealed that 69% of REALTORS® said that promoting a home's energy efficiency was important, and 77% said clients thought a home's utility bills were either very or somewhat important. As a result, homes with solar panels sell more quickly than those that don't have them.

                  3. 3-car garages     
                    Having a 3-car garage adds prestige to a home since many buyers believe that bigger is better. A larger garage also appeals to would-be buyers for practical reasons since it adds storage space. This is a high priority for most homeowners, especially if their family is still growing. Prospective homebuyers also appreciate the added space because it's attached to the house, unlike a storage shed. This makes it easier to move items to and from the garage. Add some cabinetry, shelving, and peg wallboards to make it easier to store items vertically and make sure to keep the garage clutter-free.

                  4. Energy-efficient windows  
                    New windows that are energy efficient are a draw for home buyers. If you have windows that don't open or are otherwise in poor condition, this may cause problems during a home inspection since these are some of the most common issues. Energy-efficient windows help reduce power bills since they can let a lot of cooled or heated air escape from the home and let untreated air from the outside work its way inside.

                  5. Exterior lighting  
                    Exterior lighting adds to a home's curb appeal, whether you choose spotlights, walkway lights, pendant lights, or a combination of these options. If a prospective buyer is touring your home after dark, exterior lighting – combined with a well-kept lawn and landscaping – makes your home look more appealing. It's also an important safety feature, making a home easier to navigate outside when it's dark, and motion sensor lights can be added for an extra layer of safety.

                  Contact us at Latter & Blum if you're interested in selling your Baton Rouge area home. Our knowledgeable agents can guide you in determining which exterior features are likely to help your home sell more quickly while letting you recoup your investment. 


                  What Buyers Notice During a Virtual Tour

                  Our real estate agents understand what buyers are looking for and help homeowners with Lafayette homes for sale create virtual tours that make their houses shine. What are buyers paying attention to most when virtually looking at your home? Here are some of the things to focus on if you want to catch a buyer's eye.

                  What's in the Kitchen?

                  Traditionally, the kitchen is one of the major selling points of a home. Although a shiny stainless fridge or state-of-the-art dishwasher is attractive, the stove is what catches the attention of buyers first. During in-person tours, many buyers even open it up, take a look inside, and turn on the burners to make sure they work. Point is, if you're selling your home, make sure your oven is sparkling clean and everything works. 

                  Stage the Bedroom

                  The average American sleeps nearly 230,000 hours in their lifetime, which translates to about one-third of their life. And guess what a buyer's eye goes to right away? The bed, of course. Most buyers check out the bed to see how their own bed will fit in the space and how the rest of their furniture will fit as well. Although it's important to declutter your whole house before putting it up for sale, making the bedrooms a priority is definitely a good strategy.

                  Outdoor Access

                  You may think that a buyer is only checking out the backyard when the tour moves outside, but this isn't always the case. Whether it's a virtual or in-person tour, when a buyer enters a room that opens out into the backyard, their eyes go straight to the doors that lead outside. That's why it's important to make sure windows and glass doors are sparkling clean, especially when filming a virtual tour. Sparkling clean glass can help your buyer get a good look at what's outside.

                  Tips for Creating an Engaging Virtual Tour

                  A 3-D virtual walkthrough isn't the same as simply shooting a video on your smartphone. It's best to leave this task to the professionals to make sure it's done right. Some important things to consider before creating your virtual tour include:

                    1. Easy navigation—being able to move through different rooms and pan 360 degrees easily will keep their attention.
                    2. Clear, high-definition picture—Make sure the quality of the tour is top-notch. A blurry view will turn buyers off and may even make them click away.
                    3. Ability to freeze frames—Ensuring that potential buyers can stop or go back and freeze the frame to check out specific areas is critical.
                    4. Keep it clean—Just like when you show your home in person, do a deep cleaning and remove clutter and personal items. Buyers want to envision their stuff in the home, and clutter can keep them from doing so.
                    5. Highlight your home's best features—Getting great shots of outdoor spaces and other areas that may be selling points of your home can make it stand out from the rest. Shots of each room and feature should be taken from a vantage point that shows them in their entirety.
                    6. Device compatibility—Your virtual tour should work well on all types of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, desktops, and laptops.

                  Are you ready to create a breathtaking virtual tour for your home? Our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us today to get started.


                  5 Color Options for Your Front Door

                  Nothing improves curb appeal quite like your home's front door, which is why our real estate agents always recommend adding a fresh coat of paint before you put your property on the market. Think of your front door as a chance to make a great first impression with potential buyers when they tour your home. It's a good idea to use it to your advantage to create a welcoming effect for visitors. Plus, painting your front door is a cost-effective and easy home improvement project to complete! 

                  Before your head to the store to stock up on a new shade of paint, consider these five color options that could really bring out the best in your home's exterior. 

                  1. Deep Plum
                    If you're looking for a great door color option to compliment a white or house, consider a deep plum. This royal color will add a nice contrast to any bright colored house. Purple colored doors are often thought of as a sign of creativity and open-mindedness. Deep plum is a great way to make a subtle statement without taking things over the top.

                  2. Plain White
                    You can never go wrong with a traditional, freshly painted white front door — especially if your home is a darker color. White front doors have been a timeless trend, and the best part is, you won't risk putting off potential buyers with a neutral choice like white. In fact, many of the best New Orleans homes for sale have a bright white door. Just add a fresh coat of paint to really help it shine.

                  3. Cobalt Blue
                    Depending on your home's color and material, a cobalt blue door can really create a nice effect. It works especially well with brick homes or with colors like red and brown. Consider topping it off with a thick, white exterior door frame.

                  4. Bright Red
                    No color elicits a welcoming feeling and a sense of hospitality quite like a bright red door. This color choice has been popular for centuries, and it matches both light and dark colored facades. Red doors have several positive meanings across different cultures — including safety, wealth, and luck. We found that a couple of these Baton Rouge homes for sale have beautiful bright red doors that really help their homes stand out.

                  5. Shades of Green
                    While green doors can be a bit on the bolder side, certain darker shades can really match well with white homes. Dark green doors can signal comfort and peace. If you're really looking to make a statement and create an eye-catching facade, then a bright green door might be the better option.

                  Not only does a front door say a lot about you and your home, but the color you choose can actually impact your property value. For more tips on how to boost your home's curb appeal, contact us today!


                  How Does Your Home Factor Into Retirement?

                  Retirement Years and Homeownership

                  For many individuals, their home is one of the most valuable assets they'll own during their lifetime. When it's time for you to retire, you may wonder how your home will impact your retirement. Our real estate agents know that some people choose to downsize their homes to properties that are easier to maintain, while others relocate to new locales. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your retirement. 

                  1. Owning Your Home Outright Will Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
                    If you're concerned that your retirement income and savings won't be enough to cover your monthly expenses, you can reduce your monthly expenditures by paying off debt, like your mortgage or home equity line of credit. You don't have to devote thousands of dollars to your mortgage to pay it off early. Assume that you have a 30-year, $200,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 4 percent and a monthly payment of $955. By paying an additional $200 every month, you can cut a little over 8 years from the length of your mortgage. 
                  1. Prepaying Your Mortgage May Not Give You the Best Return on Your Money
                    Aside from lowering their monthly expenses, another common reason that people choose to prepay their mortgage is that the interest rate savings associated with paying a loan off early provide a guaranteed return on their money. However, depending on the interest rate for your mortgage, you may be able to earn a higher return with other investments. You'll have to weigh your preferences for a safe investment with your desire for a potentially higher return. 
                  1. Selling and Purchasing a Home Should Happen While You're Still Healthy
                    If you have plans to downsize your home or want to move to a new area, try to execute this plan while you're still in relatively good physical and mental shape. Not only does it take a lot of physical effort to declutter and pack up a home, but the moving process also requires mental energy. When considering potential properties, make sure that you view Lake Charles homes for sale that will meet your current and future needs. As your health changes, your mobility will change. For this reason, many people nearing retirement prefer one-level properties with minimal stairs. Or, they might add a ramp that makes the property wheelchair accessible. Some individuals plan to have live-in help to assist with their medical needs. See that potential properties give caregivers their own space to retreat and relax.
                  1. Tapping Your Home's Equity May be Necessary to Cover Retirement Expenses
                    Depending on your financial situation, you may need to access your home's equity to cover expenses during your retirement. There are a few different ways to do so. Should you find yourself needing a consistent source of additional income, a reverse mortgage is one way to meet this need. With a reverse mortgage, you'll receive a monthly payment from the lender as long as you're living in your home. You don't have to repay the loan until you sell the home or you pass away. If you find yourself in need of cash for unexpected, one-time expenses, a cash-out refinance, or home equity line of credit are options to help you get the money you need without having to sell your home. 

                  Need more assistance in buying or selling a home? Contact us today to get started!


                  Lighting Upgrades That Are Worth the Investment

                  Lighting Upgrades

                  It's not uncommon for older houses to have substandard lighting, so if you want a relatively fast and easy upgrade that will give you the most bang for your buck, take a look at how you can improve the lighting. After all, no one wants to hang out in a dark house or struggle to see at night! Plus, if you are planning other home improvement projects, updating the lighting is a great way to highlight your decor. Here are a few lighting upgrades our real estate agents say are worth the investment.

                  1. Task Lighting
                    One of the major areas where most houses fail the lighting test is having enough lighting to comfortably complete a task. Task lighting is focused light in areas where you need it most, such as food prep areas in the kitchen, craft room surfaces, and bedside lighting for reading. For instance, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen has become the gold standard for providing enough light for food preparation, and track lighting makes a good flexible option for a craft room.
                  2. Dimmer Switches
                    Just as sometimes you want more focused light, it's also true that you don't always want the room to be lit up like midday. Installing dimmer switches are a perfect way to quickly convert your lighting to a more flexible design. With a dimmer switch, overhead lighting can go from bright and focused, to a soft ambiance in seconds. Dimmer switches are typically inexpensive and relatively easy to install.
                  3. LED Bulbs
                    Incandescent and even CFL bulbs are so yesterday! LED has everything you need: clean, clear light that's affordable, runs cool and uses next to nothing on your utility bill. LED lights are a favorite for everything from stair lights since they can be left on all the time and not overheat or draw too much power, to task lighting since they produce clear bright light.
                  4. Stair Lights
                    Dark or dim stairways are a significant hazard, as a lot of falls can happen when you can't clearly see where to put your feet (or whether a cat or dog is underfoot). LED stair lights are a perfect solution for preventing accidents. They run cool, draw very little energy, and can be left on all the time so that no one ever takes the stairs in the dark.

                  An old fashioned home with poor lighting can feel like a cave, which is certainly the last impression you want to give someone else when they're touring Houma homes for sale! The key to modern indoor lighting is making sure you meet all three criteria: creating ambiance, illuminating tasks, and highlighting decor. Are you wanting a professional to give you the green light for selling your home, or do you need some assistance finding your dream house? Contact us today and one of our agents will be happy to shed some light on the subject.


                  7 Things Pet Owners Need to Do Before Showings

                  Pet Owner Tips

                  It's hard to believe, but not everyone is going to love your precious Fido or Fluffy as much as you and our real estate agents do. Don't take a chance on their presence, affecting the marketability of your house. If you're a pet owner, follow these steps to prep before showing New Orleans homes for sale

                  1. Mum's the Word
                    While referring to your home as great for families creates interest, advertising it as "pet-friendly" can turn potential buyers off immediately. Refrain from any mention of pets in online listings and other marketing materials.

                  2. Hide the Evidence
                    Litter boxes, food bowls, and chewed-up toys make an unappealing visual for non-pet owners. Gather up all the physical signs of pets and stow them well out of sight. Make sure items are also removed before taking photos. 

                  3. Freshen the Air
                    You have most likely grown nose-blind to the scent of your pets, but a visiting buyer will detect it immediately. Your best bet is to have textiles, such as carpets and drapes, professionally cleaned. If that's not possible, choose neutral, pet-specific deodorizers rather than scented candles or air fresheners that can be almost as offensive as the actual pet smell. Enlist a friend without pets to conduct a smell test.

                  4. Repair Wear and Tear
                    Has your cat been using a chair leg as a scratching post? Maybe your dog has released excess energy on the door frames. Examine your home carefully for signs of pet-inflicted damage and repair or replace it as needed. Can't afford to repair hardwood floors or other costly features? Be prepared to consider alternatives, such as offering a credit toward any work that may be needed.

                  5. Vacuum, Vacuum, and Vacuum Again
                    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, roughly 30 percent of Americans suffer from pet allergies. That translates to three out of every 10 people who pass through your home. Vacuum carpeting, flooring, drapes, and furniture, and dust surfaces before every showing. Focus on corners, baseboards, and other nooks and crannies that tend to attract pet hair and dander.

                  6. Don't Forget the Yard 
                    Domestic cats tend to remain primarily indoors, so this tip will apply mostly to dog owners. Even another pet lover won't appreciate being greeted by unsightly "surprises" deposited in the yard. But don't limit your clean-up efforts to removing doggie waste. Make sure no toys are left lying around and fill in any holes your dog has dug to hide his treasures. In addition to being eyesores, these issues can become injury hazards.

                  7. Relocate Your Pet
                    Temporarily, of course. It's virtually impossible to hide a pet well enough to avoid the risk of detection. Rest assured that buyers will be looking in basements, garages, laundry rooms, and every other conceivable place you might stash your dog or cat. Removing pets from the premises is also in their best interest, as they could conceivably become frightened or agitated by strangers traipsing through "their" home. Ask a friend or family member to pet-sit or get recommendations for a trustworthy pet daycare facility.

                  Does your family include both two- and four-legged members? Whether you're buying or selling a home, we can accommodate all your needs. Contact us at Latter & Blum to get started.


                  6 Creative Ways to Hide Clutter in Your Home

                  Organize Your Home

                  Clutter. No one likes it, but sometimes it's hard to avoid. We could blame it on the fact we're home more than usual. Or if we're away at work, we could blame it on the fact we don't have enough time left in the day to tidy up. Either way, we wish we could find the magic trick that helps us avoid clutter. 

                  Most of us agree we have far too much stuff. It's easy to acquire things because buying gives us a rush, and it feels good. That is, until the moment, all that stuff ends up as clutter.

                  The key to decluttering is often throwing away, donating, or rehoming excess items. But if it's something you use, either regularly or irregularly, you need a place to store it. That can be challenging in a home where space is at a premium. Sometimes you need a quick fix to keep the stuff out of sight but easily accessed.

                  But if you need clutter to go away fast because your house is listed among Lafayette homes for sale, read on. We've got six great ways to hide clutter.

                  1. Throw some shade on your bookshelves.
                    Don't you love those tidily arranged bookshelves with books alternating with tchotchkes and negative space? Lovely to look at, but it doesn't do much to declutter. What might help is a shade installed from the top to pull down and hide the items you don't want to show in one deep shelf. The shade adds a little mystery. Invest in a nice fabric or rice paper shade. 

                  2. Hide charging cords. 
                    They're everywhere, aren't they -- tripping you up and looking unsightly. One solution is to gather up the charging cords and stow them in a box decorated with fabric. Cut some holes in the sides to run the cords through. Or, you can buy a manufactured charging station all ready to neatly store your extra cords in one place. 

                  3. Draw the curtain on kids' clutter.
                    Toys and games, even when they're stored on a shelf, are hard to hide. You can hang a pretty fabric curtain over the shelf, so the contents are out of sight.

                  4. Stock up on bins and baskets.
                    Bins and baskets should be your best friend when it comes to organizing your household. Arrange them on a shelf in closets; place them on countertops to hold those odd bits that don't go in a drawer; stow them in kitchen cabinets to hold dust rags, sponges, cleaning products, and more. Buy plastic containers in attractive colors and patterns, or acquire vintage-looking metal tubs or baskets. 

                  5. Build a roll-out pantry in the kitchen.
                    If you have a little extra space, say, next to your refrigerator, you might be able to create a roll-out pantry. You'll need some construction lumber, casters, hardware, molding, dowel rods, and plywood, but it's not hard to make if you're handy. Or hire someone to make it for you. You can also repurpose a shelf into a sliding pantry. Who wouldn't like some extra space to stow the cooking supplies that we've had to stack awkwardly in our fixed-space pantry?

                  6. Create hidden cabinets.
                    Mount attractive picture frames displaying family pictures or art. But behind them, affix cabinets of equal size. This will provide storage space for plenty of smaller items throughout the house.

                  Our real estate agents can offer some great tips to hide clutter in your home while prospective buyers look at it. Contact us today.


                  DIY Tips: How to Remove Old Carpeting

                  Removing Carpet

                  Removing old carpet can be a time-consuming DIY project, especially for those who lack experience. But knowing how to effectively remove carpet can definitely come in handy. If you're looking to switch to hardwood floors or simply looking to save a few bucks on new carpet installation, removing old carpet by yourself can have some benefits. If you're doing it for the first time, our real estate agents have outlined the best way to go about the process:

                  1. Gather Tools And Supplies
                    If you're planning a DIY carpet removal, there are a few items you'll need before you start the job. As far as tools go, you'll want to invest in a good utility knife, a hammer/pry bar, a sharp-bladed floor scraper, a pair of pliers, and some heavy-duty trash bags.

                    You'll also want to be sure to have the right protective equipment as well. Use a good pair of work gloves as your hands may come into contact with sharp tack strips or rough carpet backing. You will also need a dust mask. The process is likely to disperse particles, allergens, and bacteria into the air, protecting your lungs is important. Protective goggles are also recommended to protect your eyes from flying nails or debris.

                  2. Prepare The Room
                    Before you begin tearing up the carpet, you'll need to prepare the room. You'll want to start by removing doors from their hinges (including closet doors). Next, remove all furniture from the room. Once the carpet is completely accessible, it's time to begin the work.

                  3. Start The Work
                    Once you begin removing the carpet, the process is fairly simple. We recommend starting in the corner of the room. Using pliers, grab the carper and pull it up until it detaches from the tack strips. Then, use your hand to continue pulling carpet along the wall.

                    After you've detached two or three feet of carpet, begin to cut the carpet into strips using a utility knife. Roll-up the strips and remove the carpet from the room. Removing the carpet in pieces allows for easier disposal. If there is a carpet pad underneath, remove it by following the same process described above.

                    After you've removed the carpet and any additional padding, you can begin to remove the tack strips and nails using your pry bar or hammer. Keep in mind, there will be hundreds or even thousands of nails. We recommend using your floor scrape (instead of pliers). Otherwise, the process can take quite a while.

                  4. Cleaning Up
                    After the carpet and carpet pad is removed, scrape off any glue stuck to the floorboards and give the floor a good sweep to capture any remaining debris. We also recommend cleaning your floor with a mop prior to installing any new carpet or flooring materials.

                  While it can be time-consuming, DIY carpet removal isn't complicated. Switching to hardwood floors is a great way to make your home stand out among these Baton Rouge homes for sale. For more tips on DIY projects, contact us today.


                  The Most Important Rooms to Stage When Listing Your Home

                  Staging Rooms

                  Room staging is one of the most important parts of the home selling process. With digital marketplaces playing such a large role in the real estate market these days, good pictures of properly staged rooms can make all the difference for your listing. Studies have actually shown that room staging can also lead to an increased offer value from prospective buyers. 

                  The process of properly staging a room is both an art and a science, and it's important to do it right. For many sellers, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, our real estate agents are experts at room staging and can provide tips. Below are some of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale.

                  The Living Room

                  The living room is arguably the most important room to stage. Not only is it where many families spend most of their time, but it's also often one of the first rooms potential homebuyers see when viewing a home. Make sure to have the carpet professionally cleaned and remove personalized items like souvenirs and photographs. Add a few minimal decorations such as flowers or neutral artwork. If your living room is small, consider opening shades or blinds in order to maximize light exposure, as this will help the room appear larger. 

                  The Kitchen

                  The kitchen is the heart of the home, so make it as attractive as possible to potential homebuyers. The key is to make your kitchen appear bright, sparkly, and clean. Consider having the room professionally cleaned before listing your home for sale. If you're looking to create a cozier look, consider adding an eat-in table with chairs or a kitchen rug. Be sure to remove all clutter except for a few decorative items (think flowers or a tea kettle). If you have the budget, consider updating your appliances as well.

                  The Master Bedroom

                  It's no surprise that the master bedroom is one of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale. One of the keys to staging it is to keep things as neutral as possible. You want to allow prospective buyers to be able to envision themselves living in the space. Avoid any themes, as these can ultimately be distracting. Make sure to clean out closets and go out of your way to show off organization and storage. Also, be sure to keep most personal items out of sight. When it comes to the bed, decorative pillows and throw blankets can go a long way -- just be sure to use softer colors. Try to optimize the room's light exposure by keeping blinds and curtains open. Mirrors can also give off the appearance of depth.

                  The Bathroom

                  A well-organized bathroom can really help the staging process. Prospective buyers will be opening closets, so make sure to use stylish drawers, organizers, and hanging shelves to organize toiletries. Remove any personal items like toothbrushes or bath towels. Most importantly, make sure sinks, counters, floors, tubs, shower curtains, and mirrors are sparkling clean. Spring for a decorative, fluffy bath mat or a small rug for the middle of the room.

                  Staging your home can have a huge impact. For more inspiration on beautifully staged homes, check out these Lake Charles homes for sale or contact us today.


                  How to Better Organize Your Kitchen

                  Organized Kitchen

                  Since the kitchen is known as the heart of the home, making sure it's organized is extra important. A cluttered kitchen not only makes preparing meals a hassle, but it can also turn away potential buyers. 

                  Get rid of kitchen clutter by better organizing your space. Our real estate agents encourage you to use these tips to organize your kitchen.

                  • Use Pull-Out Cabinet Drawers & Organizers
                    Cabinets are often cluttered, preventing you from accessing (or even remembering) what's inside. Organize your cabinets by pulling everything out and installing pull-out drawers and inner-door organizers. These two cheap, yet effective resources make it effortless to retrieve whatever you need.

                  • Drawer Dividers
                    Like cabinets, drawers are another culprit of clutter. Thankfully, they can also be affordably organized with drawer dividers. While most use them solely for the silverware drawer, integrating different sizes into all of your drawers can help keep them organized. These are especially helpful for "junk drawers" full of miscellaneous items.

                  • Use Lazy Susans
                    Whether you're working in the cabinets or pantry, a lazy Susan can be an invaluable asset to your organizational needs. From spices and seasonings to sauces, cans, and bottles, a lazy Susan is an easy and efficient way to quickly browse through your kitchen staples.

                  • Clear Containers
                    Unfortunately, lazy Susans won't solve all of your pantry problems. Many odd-sized items or loose items that come in boxes can be easily contained in another helpful resource: clear storage containers. Clear containers are great for storing a variety of common pantry items. Not only can they keep foods like pasta or cereal fresh, but they can also make it easy to organize and view foods like snacks for kids, exercise supplements and power bars, or single-serve type foods.

                  • Group Like Items Together
                    Regardless if you use lazy Susans, clear containers, or another form of storage, it's important that you try to organize items into similar groups. Keeping food and supplies contained in groups makes them easy to access and keep organized. Be sure to apply this technique to your appliances and specialty devices as well. For instance, keep your baking supplies together in one area and your barbequing supplies together in another.

                  • Arrange Items By Use
                    With so much to organize, you must make sure that accessibility is a priority. One challenge to achieving this is ensuring that lesser-used items don't block frequently used items. Place seldom-used items in harder to reach places such as top shelves or bottom cabinets, so your most used items are always at hand.

                  • Consider a Handy Cart or Serving Tray
                    If you find yourself running out of room in the cabinets or pantry, you can cleverly use carts or serving trays that double as décor and storage options. For example, keeping your baking or barbequing supplies on a wheeled cart keeps them organized and easy to wheel over to the oven or grill when you need them. A tray can provide the same convenience: keeping supplies for coffee, tea, or cocktails on a tray is an attractive counter piece that can be instantly transported from room to room.

                  • Ditch Unused Items
                    One of the most important tips in kitchen organization is knowing when to toss unused items. Appliances that collect dust, such as cake trays or fondue sets, maybe taking up space despite being unused for years. Know when it's time to remove these items for the things you really need.  

                  Are you searching for a house with a kitchen and dining area perfect for entertaining? We can help. Contact us today to tour our spacious Alexandria homes for sale.


                  Helpful Tips for Hanging Your Wall Art

                  Hanging Wall Art Tips

                  Does it feel as though hanging wall art takes as much talent as actually creating the art itself? Don't be intimidated when decorating Alexandria homes for sale and other houses. Use these valuable tips from our real estate agents to hang wall art like a pro.

                  1. Location, Location, Location
                    The #1 rule of real estate also holds true when decorating. Determine where you'll place each piece of art by considering room functions, existing furniture and accessories, and sizes and shapes.

                  2. To Thine Own Self Be True
                    Shakespeare's words are always good advice, including when it comes to choosing artwork. Don't be guided by trends or the need to impress others. A single picture you truly cherish is worth more than a museum full of masterworks.

                  3. Don't Look Up
                    According to design experts, hanging a piece of art too high is the most common decorating mistake. People shouldn't have to strain their neck, admiring the artwork in your home. The rule of thumb used in museums and galleries is to place the center of a wall hanging 57" above the floor, which equals eye level for most people.

                  4. Strike the Proper Balance
                    Wall hangings and furniture should neither fight for attention nor drown each other out. When proportions are correct, both elements create a sense of harmony. Aim for an artwork or grouping that's approximately two-thirds the length of adjacent furniture, with the bottom of the art no more than a foot above. If you're working above a fireplace, go with a piece that's slightly narrower than the mantle but slightly wider than the fireplace opening.

                  5. Bigger Is (Usually) Better
                    When in doubt about size, err on the side of bigger. An oversized piece of art can serve as a focal point, while one that's too small comes off as an afterthought and adds absolutely no interest to a room.

                  6. Blend Form and Function
                    "Art" doesn't have to be rigidly defined as something created solely for visual appeal. There's a wide range of shelving, storage units, and other organizational items that offer equal parts style and substance. Incorporate these "wall hangings" for some great multitasking design elements.

                  7. Consider a Gallery Wall
                    Grouping several small and mid-sized pieces can tell a striking visual story. When you have an even number of pieces similar in size and appearance, a grid arrangement works well. Another option is using several pieces of varying sizes, shapes, and mediums, placing them in a carefully-drawn "random" arrangement. 

                  8. Measure Twice, Hammer Once
                    "Measure twice, cut once" is a popular saying applied to home improvement projects that's easily adapted to hanging wall art. If you're using more than one piece in a specific area, place a piece of butcher paper on the floor and test different arrangements. Once you've found the right one, trace the outline of each piece and mark the spot of the hanger to create a handy template.

                  9. Use Alternative "Hanging" Methods
                    Maybe you want a more casual, contemporary look, or you just don't want any hardware on your walls. One popular option used by many designers is simply leaning a piece of art against the wall. Larger pieces can rest on the floor, while smaller ones can be placed on a side table, bookcase, or floating shelf.

                  Home, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. Contact us today and let Latter & Blum guide you on the journey to find your perfect house in Alexandria. 


                  What You Can Expect From a Home Inspection

                  Home Inspection

                  If you're considering purchasing a home, a home inspection will give you better insight regarding the condition of the home. A home inspection is an examination of the property's interior, exterior, and major systems.

                  Our real estate agents know that a home inspection can provide invaluable information regarding repairs that a property needs now or will require in the near future. Here's what you can expect from a home inspection. 

                  1. A Home Inspection Examines Items That are Readily Visible
                    During the home inspection, the inspector can only examine things that are already visible or are easily visible by opening a door, cabinet, or drawer (something that's fairly accessible). The inspector can't pull up flooring or smash walls, nor will they move furniture. That's not to say that a home inspection only looks for surface-level problems. Your inspector will look for problems that may not be obvious to the average homebuyer, such as grading problems, foundation issues, and leaks in the plumbing system. As long as the home's roof isn't extremely steep, your inspector will likely inspect the roof, gutters, shingles, and any skylights. Some items that a home inspection won't look for or check include:
                    • Termites and other household pests
                    • Chimney condition
                    • Radon levels
                    • Well condition
                    • Water quality
                  1. A Home Inspection Will Take at Least a Couple of Hours
                    On average, a home inspection takes anywhere from two to four hours. The length of time the inspection takes depends on the size of the home. Your inspector will examine any structure that's physically connected to the home; this includes the garage, basement, attic, and bonus room. Sheds or barns not attached to the home aren't included in the inspection. It's allowed and even encouraged for the buyer to attend the home inspection. This will give you a chance to learn how the systems in various Alexandria homes for sale work. You can also ask questions about any items that the inspector thinks are potentially a major issue.
                  1. A Home Inspector Will Provide You With a Report After the Inspection
                    After the inspection, your inspector will provide you with a comprehensive report that details their findings. This report is an extensive document that will go over everything that the home inspector examined during their inspection. The report will state the inspector's findings for the item examined, including the condition for the item and the anticipated additional lifespan for major systems and appliances. Your report will also include a section that states which items the inspector recommends be immediately repaired or replaced. Many homeowners are overwhelmed when they receive a report that lists dozens of defects. Remember, many of these defects are likely to be relatively minor. Focus on the items that are a potential safety hazard or that will be expensive or time consuming to repair or replace. You may be able to get the seller to adjust the price if the inspection shows that the home needs a lot of costly, unexpected repairs.

                  Regardless of the outcome of your negotiations, an inspection will help you better understand the true condition of the home that you're considering purchasing. 

                  Ready to start shopping for homes? Contact us today to get started!


                  Trends to Avoid When Selling Your Home

                  Trends to Avoid When Selling

                  "Trend" is defined as something that's popular at a certain point in time. While decorating trends may be fun and fashionable, they can severely limit the appeal of Houma homes for sale. Improve the marketability of your home by avoiding these current style trends.

                  1. Accent Walls
                    Accent walls have gained favor as a way to break up a neutral palette with a contained but vivid pop of color. But even one wall can be distinctive enough to turn off prospective buyers whose taste runs in a different direction. Also, accent walls stand out in photographs, so people viewing online listings may eliminate your home without an in-person visit.

                  2. Wallpaper
                    Unlike accent walls, wallpaper is often used to cover an entire room. With current wallpaper choices running toward bold patterns and bright colors, the possibility of alienating buyers is even greater.

                  3. Too Much White
                    If color is bad, the absence of color should be good, right? Not so fast. An abundance of white makes a home come off as cold and uninviting. White can certainly be an element in a neutral color scheme, but also incorporate gray, beige, and other subtle tones.

                  4. "Statement" Doors
                    Much like accent walls, front doors have become an opportunity to express individual style without going overboard. They also share the same tendency to keep buyers from proceeding any further.

                  5. In-Kitchen Offices
                    As more and more people have been working from home, some designers have tried to capitalize on adding a small work nook to kitchens. Unfortunately, most kitchens are not conducive to productivity in any activity other than cooking, and the area ends up as wasted space. Adding storage is a much better way of increasing value.

                  6. Tuscan-Style Kitchens
                    For a while, kitchens resembling the ones in rustic Italian homes were all the rage. The kitchen is a central gathering place for many families, and the dark colors and heavy wood furnishings of the Tuscan style can come off as heavy. Stick with a light, airy feel using subway tile, stainless steel appliances, and other sleek features.

                  7. Showers Only
                    Walk-in showers are a convenience as well as a style choice. But if a bathtub is completely excluded, that can be a deal-breaker for many buyers. Families need a tub for kids and pets, while some adults just enjoy a relaxing bath after a long day at work.

                  8. Elaborate Landscaping
                    Backyards with koi ponds, extensive flower gardens, and mini-waterfalls are certain to make buyers ooh and ahh until the amount of required maintenance sinks in. Don't assume everyone else enjoys gardening and landscape architecture as much as you do. 

                  9. Converted Garages
                    DIY sites are full of ideas to turn your garage into a home gym or office, kids' playroom, or even a guest bedroom. People do like creative ways to maximize space, but many of them still want a garage simply for parking their car and maybe storing some tools and bicycles. If you do convert your garage, keep it basic enough so it can quickly revert back to its original configuration.

                  After years of assisting clients with successful transactions, our real estate agents know all the ins and outs of marketing homes around Houma. Contact us at Latter & Blum, and let us go to work for you.


                  Decluttering with Kids: 6 Tips for Making it Easier

                  Decluttering Tips

                  As minimalist living continues to increase in popularity, owners of many of these beautiful New Orleans homes for sale have taken a "less is more" approach to their interior design and lifestyle. However, for many parents, decluttering with kids in the house may seem far beyond the realm of possibility. Luckily, our real estate agents have shared several tips for how you can make decluttering with kids possible today:

                  1. Start the Process When the Kids Aren't Around
                    When you first start the decluttering process, it's best to begin when the kids are at school or staying with grandma. Decluttering with the kids at home can be highly unproductive as they'll likely have a tough time giving up certain toys, books, or clothing. You'll get the best results if you do the initial sweep on your own.
                  2. Avoid Excuses
                    Let's face it, it might be tough for you to part with your kid's belongings. After all, many of these items have a tremendous amount of sentimental value. Hanging onto items simply because they were a gift or are connected to good memories is simply going to lead to more clutter. If you're struggling to let things go, just remind yourself of the joy these items can bring to kids in need.
                  3. Broken Toys Must Go
                    Any toys that are broken, missing a piece, or falling apart should go straight to the trash without a second thought. Do a quick evaluation of all the toys in the house and find the ones that are broken. Your kids may ask for you to fix them, but it's important to resist the urge to hang on to any broken items.
                  4. Organize Everything Into Categories
                    After the old junk is gone, organize the remaining toys into categories such as stuffed animals, action figures, dolls, or vehicles. You can then store the most commonly used groups of toys in an accessible location in the bedroom while placing the less commonly-used toys in the basement or attic. Kids often forget about the toys that are out of sight.
                  5. Don't Hang on to Clothes
                    Once the toys are taken care of, it's time to move on to the clothes. It may be tempting to hold onto clothing for sentimental reasons, but you must resist! Comb through drawers and closets and make a pile of items that no longer fit or are never worn. These items can be taken to a local clothing drive. Starting a donation bin is also a great way to declutter overtime. 
                  6. Teach Your Kids the Value of Decluttering
                    It's important for your kids to understand the value and benefits of decluttering. Teach your kids about the importance of donating unused items so that other children can benefit and find joy in them. By showing your kids the importance of decluttering at a young age, they are more likely to develop positive habits that last a lifetime. 

                  Kids can certainly make the decluttering process more challenging, but by establishing some simple guidelines and teaching your kids the value of simplicity and organization, it can be done. Contact us today for more tips on how to declutter your home.


                  Give Your Kitchen a Boost Without Breaking the Bank

                  Kitchen Improvements

                  Whether you're a longtime homeowner or you've recently purchased one of the many New Orleans homes for sale, your kitchen is the center of your household. Over time though, your kitchen's appearance may begin to look dull and outdated. When a complete remodel is not in the budget, completing small fixes can give your kitchen the new refreshed look you've been wanting.

                  The following are some ideas to get you started. While their cost is on the lower side, these projects can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. 

                  • Repurpose Cabinets 
                    Cabinets are generally the most prominent fixture in any kitchen. Replacing the cabinets would cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are plenty of low-cost options that will make your cabinets feel like new. Sanding down and re-staining your cabinets removes scratches and other imperfections. Or paint your cabinets. A light color can brighten your entire kitchen area. Also, replacing old knobs and handles adds finishing touches to repurposing existing cabinets.
                  • Paint Walls
                    Don't stop with just painting the cabinets! Adding a new coat of paint to your walls breathes new life into your kitchen. Lighter shades or contrasting colors will change your kitchen's entire appearance.
                  • New Appliances
                    You do not need to replace your stove or refrigerator. Simply give the larger appliances a good cleaning. Replace smaller appliances that you use regularly. Placing a new toaster or blender on your counter provides a clean, refreshed look.
                  • New Curtains
                    Even with regular washing, curtains can begin to show signs of wear. Replacing your curtains can add a new color or style to your kitchen. Find curtains that match your kitchen's theme or your style.
                  • Add or Replace Your Backsplash
                    Replacing the backsplash behind your stove or sink provides a focal point for your kitchen. Add some personality to your kitchen by showcasing a colorful tile pattern. This is also an easy project to DIY from start to finish.  
                  • Upgrade Your Faucet
                    Change your old, outdated facet to a modern style. Faucets are relatively inexpensive and are easy to install. Just make sure you buy one that works with your sink. 
                  • Replace Flooring
                    Depending on your budget, replacing your flooring can be an easy way to enhance your kitchen's appearance. Save money on this project by opting for DIY installation if possible. 
                  • Add Throw Rugs
                    If you cannot replace your flooring, consider adding brightly colored throw rugs to enhance the area. Set a larger rug under your table or island area. Place matching rugs in front of your sink or stove area. Carpets come in numerous styles, colors, and textures to fit your own individualized decorating needs.
                  • Get a Bookcase
                    Place all your recipe or decorating books in one location. Eliminate piles of books on top of your refrigerator or inside your cabinets. An inexpensive bookcase is a great way to display your favorite recipes in an eyecatching way.
                  • Change Lighting
                    Upgrade your kitchen lights or replace bulbs with different wattage. Adding more light above your island or kitchen table can transform your kitchen's overall look.

                  Looking for a completely new kitchen to meet your growing family needs? Our real estate agents can help! Contact us today.


                  Louisiana One of the Best States for Flipping in 2020

                  Louisiana Flipping

                  Baton Rouge homes for sale have long been some of the most attractive for real estate investors. Whether you're new to the market or an experienced hand, you're sure to find plenty of properties perfect for house flipping.

                  And our real estate agents are happy to report another reason to be excited about Baton Rouge.

                  Louisiana has gotten a lot of great press in recent years for its flourishing home market. Baton Rouge and other major Louisiana cities are some of the best places to start a family, build a career, or find opportunities to invest - and Louisiana is leading the pack in one very important way.

                  Trusted business publications agree: It is one of the best states for flipping in 2020.

                  While 2020 has brought a lot of unexpected changes, Louisiana's real estate market is still going strong – and it's in a particularly good position to help house flippers find excellent projects.

                  Louisiana Joins a Small Handful of States as Best for Flippers in 2020

                  According to the latest research, Louisiana ranks #4 for flippers in 2020 out of all 50 states. It stands alongside Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and #1 for this year, Mississippi.

                  Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Lafayette have hot markets where fast-moving property investors can make a great return. Because there are many relatively new homes, you can focus on renovations with the highest ROI. Big repairs, such as full roof replacement, are much rarer.

                  Some of the top renovations for flippers in Baton Rouge and Lafayette include:

                  • Energy-efficient window replacement using wood or vinyl
                  • A kitchen update without any significant structural changes
                  • Replacement of the front door and the garage door
                  • Replacement of damaged or worn-out asphalt shingles

                  With more time and a bigger budget, upscale bathroom and kitchen remodels can also be solid selections. In some cases, adding a master suite can improve buyers' interest in the home – but be careful of new decks, which may not provide the return you want.

                  Louisiana's low taxes and business-friendly policies enable many flippers to seize success even if it is their first time on the market. Finding the lowest priced home in a safe, desirable neighborhood puts you in a position to sell at the low end of the local home values and still reap a profit.

                  Baton Rouge, in particular, has drawn attention because the average time it takes to flip a home is much lower here than in comparable cities around the United States. The national average stands around 180 days: Done right, the market in Baton Rouge can move much faster.

                  Partner With Latter & Blum For Louisiana Real Estate Expertise You Need

                  Even in the best markets, few house flippers go it alone.

                  Knowledge of the local real estate market is a crucial part of flipping any home successfully. With advice from an experienced professional, you'll understand what your budget and profit expectations should be.

                  No matter your real estate goals here in Louisiana, Latter & Blum is the team to turn to. To learn about real estate opportunities in Baton Rouge or around the state, just contact us today.


                  Don't Wait to Address These Home Maintenance Issues

                  Home Maintenance Issues

                  Whether your home is an older house filled with character or a new property filled with trendy details, it's important to keep your space maintained. Not only will regular home maintenance save you money in the long run, but it will ensure your home is ready to put on the market when you call our real estate agents. Here are a few common home maintenance issues to address as soon as possible: 

                  1. Any Leaks or Drips
                    It might not seem like a huge deal if your pipes drip a little water or if your roof has a small leak when it storms. Unfortunately, it only takes a small amount of water to cause a lot of damage to your home. When left on its own, a leak will continue to add water and keep the same area moist. If you notice an area of unexplained moisture or if your water bill seems higher than usual, contact a plumber ASAP to diagnose the problem. You want to take care of any water-related damage before adding your home to the list of Lafayette homes for sale. This moisture can lead to a host of issues, including:
                      • Mold or mildew
                      • Cracks
                      • Damage to your foundation or ceilings
                      • A prolonged musty smell
                  1. Dirty Air Ducts
                    Your home's air ducts transport the cool or warm air from your home's heating and cooling systems throughout your home. Over time, it's possible for contaminants to get trapped in your air ducts. Pet hair and dust are some of the most common culprits. When the air passes through the air ducts, these contaminants will be released back into your home, lowering your air quality and causing respiratory irritation. Make sure that you regularly change your air filters and have your air ducts inspected annually. During this cleaning, you can also have your air ducts inspected to ensure that they're structurally sound. 
                  1. A Sewage Backup
                    If you have a sewage backup, this is a problem that calls for a quick remedy. Overflowing sewage will cause your property to have a horrid smell that will prevent you from using your outside spaces. Should you notice that you have multiple drains clogged or if your toilets aren't flushing correctly, you might have a sewage backup. A rank odor is another common sign that it's time to call a plumber. 
                  1. A Broken Kitchen Exhaust Fan
                    When you cook, your kitchen's exhaust fan helps remove smoke, grease, and odors from your kitchen. If these items aren't collected, they'll remain in your kitchen's air, causing your kitchen to smell and accumulate a film of grease on the walls and cabinets. Fortunately, replacing a wonky exhaust fan is a quick, simple repair. If your exhaust fan works but doesn't seem like it's clearing the smoke from your cooking very efficiently, this may indicate it's time for an upgrade. 
                  1. Buildup in Your Chimney
                    There's nothing like a warm, cozy fire on a chilly night. If you notice that your fire leaves more wood than ash or if there's a lot of soot, this can indicate that your chimney has creosote buildup. Creosote is a byproduct produced by the combustion of wood. When creosote accumulates, it increases your home's chance of a chimney fire. Have your chimney cleaned once a year to remove any buildup. 

                  Ready to explore properties that are for sale? Contact us today to find a fantastic home for your family!


                  5 Features Buyers Are Looking For Right Now

                  Features Buyers Want

                  In many places throughout the United States, the coronavirus slowed the real estate market for more than a month. Now, people are back to looking for Alexandria homes for sale.

                  The difference: Precisely what they are looking for has changed almost overnight. Needs that simply did not exist before are now reflected in buyer preferences around the region.

                  Our real estate agents are always eager to find new ways to help our sellers succeed. You don't always have to plan a major renovation to get ahead of these new trends. Sometimes, you can improve your odds of a fast, successful sale just by staging your home correctly.

                  To really wow your prospective buyers, focus on these emerging trends:

                  1. More Bathrooms
                    Washing your hands regularly is a good idea any time, but it has never been more important. Families who were once used to rationing time in a shared bathroom are finding that tougher. More means better, even if one bathroom is smaller or less sophisticated. It's a bonus if extra bathrooms have brass or copper fixtures, now lauded for their antimicrobial properties.
                  2. Better Pantries
                    In many communities, stocking up has become a way of life. While 2-4 weeks of food was the norm not that long ago, some buyers are wondering how they can safely stockpile two or even three months of groceries. Good kitchen storage is the key. On the same theme: Freezer space is at a premium, so agreeing to leave your new fridge behind can raise your selling price.
                  3. The Return of The Coatroom
                    Whether you call it a cloakroom, a coatroom, or a mudroom, this adjunct to your home's foyer is about to experience a renaissance. Mudrooms give you the opportunity to kick off your shoes and shed your outer garments, helping protect against two ways coronavirus can enter a home. Plus, you can also set up cleaning materials in this space, like hand sanitizer.
                  4. More Distinct, Closed-Off Spaces
                    While the open floorplan won't go away, its reputation has taken a dinging. From students doing their homework to established professionals working from home, everyone now needs a place to call their own. Enclosed, distraction-free spaces are "in." Nooks, islands, converted closets, and many other options will be more appealing to buyers than ever.
                  5. Home Gyms
                    Up until recently, the home gym has had a mixed reputation. Many buyers preferred sellers to take their gym equipment away with them to save on storage space. Today's buyers are worried about staying fit in a safe and sustainable way. It's time to put out the treadmill, exercise bike, and any other equipment. Clean them up like new and photograph them all set up!

                  No one can see the future – and the average buyer or seller couldn't have imagined all these changes. But even if your home doesn't match the latest trends, there are still steps you can take.

                  Adding shelving in your dining room or kitchen can help you meet the need for more storage space. Updating your bathroom fixtures is always a good idea, so make brass your first choice.

                  What about home office space? Many homeowners have been converting their side storage closets into small bonus rooms. This can be done in as little as one weekend. Just make sure to decorate the space when you're done and include the photos in your online listing!

                  Contact us at Latter & Blum today to find out more.


                  Don't Forget About These Spring Cleaning Tasks

                  Spring Cleaning

                  Spring is in full swing, and it's time to clean up! 

                  Our real estate agents have been using the opportunity to take spring cleaning to the next level. We've learned a trick or two in the process, and we're excited to share them!

                  1. Dust Your Door Frames 
                    Most of us dust shelves and window sills regularly, but for some reason, door frames are easy to forget about. Or maybe we just ignore them because they're up too high. Either way, door frames are dust magnets, so don't forget to add them to your spring cleaning checklist!

                  2. Vacuum Your Furniture 
                    It's true; vacuum cleaners aren't just for the floor. It's common for people to thoroughly vacuum carpeting and area rugs, only to ignore the upholstered furniture just inches away. This spring, take the extra time to vacuum your furniture thoroughly. Be sure to really get in there too—front, back, under the pillows, between the cushions—clean out every nook and crevice. 

                  3. Clean Your Trash Cans 
                    You shouldn't let your trash cans get trashy just because they're made for, well, trash. Every now and then, they need to be cleaned. Since it probably hasn't been done all winter, spring is a good time to take your trash cans out onto the driveway and give them a good spraying down with soap and water. 

                  4. Change HVAC Filters 
                    The filters in your HVAC system should be changed every month or so throughout the year. If you've been neglecting them over the winter, now's a great time to get them back on track!

                  5. Wash Your Shower Curtain 
                    How many times have you scrubbed the tub and ignored the grimy shower curtain hanging right next to it? If you have a shower curtain and liner that can be laundered, run them through the washing machine on a normal gentle cycle. If you have the plastic or vinyl kind, you can hand-wash them with white vinegar (or throw them out and get a new one if they're moldy and mildewy). 

                  6. Clean Kitchen Organizers 
                    Utensil canisters, knife blocks, silverware organizers, pot and pan racks—these places can all gather a lot of unseen dust and dirt, not to mention sticky stove grease. Now is an excellent time to clean them all! You can even run a lot of these items through the dishwasher if they're dishwasher safe. 

                  7. Deep Clean the Fridge 
                    We know it's not fun, but there's no getting around it. Every once in a while, you need to pull all the food out of the fridge, wash all the racks and drawers, and deep clean every surface. You'll be shocked by how much better it looks when you're done. 

                  8. Clean Your Cleaning Tools
                    Yes, you can go to a new level of cleaning! Mop buckets can be scrubbed out, dustpans can be washed, broom bristles can be vacuumed, and your vacuum cleaner's exterior can be wiped down with a damp cloth. 

                  Contact us today to learn more about how you can kick your spring cleaning up a notch. And if you happen to be looking for beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, we can help with that too!


                  Phase 1 Reopening in Louisiana: The Impact on Real Estate Services

                  Reopening Louisiana

                  Following established guidelines, Louisiana will begin Phase 1 of the opening plan on Friday, May 15th. Although this reopening is a bright beacon of hope, we must not forget that we are not fully free of the shadow of COVID-19. As we revive our sense of normalcy, our real estate agents want to assure you that we are collectively doing our part to safely serve our community as responsibly as possible.

                  FAQ About Louisiana Phase 1 Coronavirus Reopening

                  When will Louisiana reopen?
                  The state will enter Phase 1 of a three-phase reopening plan, as suggested by the federal government, on May 15th.

                  What businesses and services will be reopened in Phase 1?
                  Phase 1 of the reopening plan includes the opening of many services and businesses, such as barbershops/hair salons, bars that serve food, churches, funeral services, gyms and fitness centers, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other non-essential businesses. However, many of these locations are only allowed to open if they follow strict guidelines dictating the number of individuals permitted to occupy the space and how employees, visitors, and customers must interact while following social distancing/PPE guidelines.

                  How long will Phase 1 last?
                  Currently, Louisiana is scheduled to operate under Phase 1 guidelines for 21 days, and into Phase 2 on June 15th. However, as we've seen over the last few months, the coronavirus situation can change quickly. While these dates are hopeful, they are not guaranteed and may be adjusted at any time.

                  How does this impact real estate services?
                  We want all of our associates and clients to know that Latter & Blum considers the safety and health of our community a number one priority. As essential personnel, our agents can continue to serve our community as safe, securely, and responsibly as possible. To do so, we have asked that all Latter & Blum agents follow these guidelines:

                  • Reduce the number of physical showings by only touring homes with buyers who are prequalified for properties that meet their search criteria (for example, size, price, style, wish list, location, etc.)

                  • All agents should conveniently provide documents describing floor plan, property amenities, flood information, home improvements, termite contracts, and other relevant information on the MLS listing. Furthermore, agents should also execute any paperwork electronically when possible.

                  • Agents should practice social distancing by remaining six feet apart from others when possible and by limiting showings to a maximum of five people at once. Agents should also drive to each property in separate vehicles from the buyers.

                  • All agents are encouraged to wear a mask in public places, including during property viewings, wear gloves, and wash their hands when entering and exiting the property. All agents should also sanitize any surface that they touch and open/close all doors, cabinets, and other property elements for the buyers

                  Although these guidelines are not forced upon the agents or buyers, many of our agents are voluntarily taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 out of respect to our friends, family members, and neighbors throughout the community.

                  If you are ready to purchase or sell property, we're ready to help. Contact us today to get started!


                  How to Prepare Your New Orleans Home for a Virtual Tour

                  New Orleans Home Virtual Tour

                  COVID-19 has created considerable disruptions across the country. Many states have placed significant restrictions on home showings, open houses, etc. However, that doesn't mean you can't sell your house in the meantime. Our real estate agents can help you harness the power of technology to reach an even broader audience without ever having to leave the couch. Hosting a virtual tour of your home gives you a chance to show off the features around your property and present details about the house in a polished, professional manner.

                  Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

                  Clean everything out so that the home looks open and spacious. This means cleaning the cupboards, clearing out the garage, polishing the fixtures, cleaning windows, and removing debris from the yard. Essentially, give your home the super spring cleaning treatment. Potential homebuyers will want to see every possible angle of their potential new home, so leave no dust bunnies behind!

                  When shooting a virtual tour, you can also remove furniture from rooms while filming. This can open the room up and give you time to decide which pieces of furniture you want to move with you, and which pieces you will donate or sell before you make your move.

                  As with a traditional open house, you should make minor repairs and repaint rooms to a neutral color before filming. This helps the audience better appreciate the home and alleviates concerns about damage and potential remodeling expenses. 

                  Shooting Footage

                  If possible, shoot live footage of your home using an ultra-high-definition camera. Better still use a camera that can capture a 360-degree view of the home through a fisheye lens. This will give viewers a realistic view of the interior and exterior of your home. Similarly, make sure to open windows and turn on lights. This will help eliminate shadows in the footage.

                  Take test shots of the rooms and make adjustments to lighting, furniture position, and camera placement. 

                  You will also want to make sure the home is quiet during the video shoot. Have children and pets play quietly outside while you are filming inside and choose quiet times of day to film exterior footage of the home.

                  When filming, it's best to use a tripod or a camera with an effective stabilizer. This helps create a more polished, professional look. Similarly, it's a good idea to run your footage through a professional editing program. This can help remove sounds and other blemishes from the finished product. 

                  Contact us to learn more about how to stage your home and prepare your property for a virtual tour. We'll provide you examples of other virtual tours of New Orleans homes for sale that have helped others in the area sell their home.  


                  5 Neighboring Properties That Can Affect the Sale of Your Home

                  Neighboring Properties

                  You've completed your staging and cleaning and have your home buyer-ready, inside and out. Unfortunately, sometimes surrounding properties can turn off prospective buyers, even if your home is a showplace. From messy yards to roaming dogs, neighboring properties could affect how your home shows while on the market.

                  Our REALTORS® outline 5 solutions if you have neighboring properties that could affect the sale of your home.

                  1. The Loud Property
                    In the case of noisy neighbors, they may not realize that they're disturbing you. Ask them nicely to be a little quieter, especially during showings. If this doesn't work, you could talk to your homeowners' association, if you have one, or ask other neighbors who are bothered as well to have a similar conversation.

                  2. The Abandoned Property
                    An empty house near yours could be the result of bankruptcy or foreclosure. If the home's exterior condition is unsightly with newspapers piling up, household items left on the porch, and an overgrown lawn, it's time to do some research. Try to find out who - such as a financial institution - has a vested interest in the property and ask if they can have basic maintenance taken care of. If not, explain the situation and ask if you could mow the lawn yourself, pick up the papers, and dispose of outside debris.

                  3. Nosy Neighbor
                    A nosy neighbor might try to catch a potential buyer to share some of the unsubstantiated neighborhood gossip. Notify your real estate agent about this situation so he or she can try to head off the nosy neighbor. You may also want to approach your neighbor and stress how important it is to have only your agent give information to prospective buyers.

                  4. Roaming and Loud Animals
                    A neighbor who has dogs who constantly bark or have allowed to roam free can be problematic. Talk to him or her and be honest about the fact that you're trying to sell your home and are afraid this will turn buyers away. If a conversation doesn't work, call your local city or parish about noise ordinance violations with a constantly barking dog. It can help to record the dogs for evidence of your complaint.

                  5. HOA Rule-Breakers
                    A homeowners' association community is meant to draw up and enforce rules that govern the neighborhood. When there is an HOA, homebuyers expect their neighbors to follow the rules. However, neighbors who break the HOA rules can lead a prospective buyer to assume that neighborhood rules aren't enforced. If that's the case, take your complaint to the HOA and enforce the rules. 

                  In most of these cases, the solution is to have a polite conversation with those in your neighborhood on your goals of selling your home and how they can help. Most people will be understanding since chances are they've had to sell a property before too! 

                  Contact us when you're ready to sell your home. We've closed deals on many Alexandria homes for sale and can help advise you on sticky issues that could interfere with your sale.


                  Home Improvement Projects You Can Tackle in One Weekend

                  Home Improvement Projects

                  A home improvement project doesn't need to last weeks or even months. There are numerous projects you can tackle in a single weekend that will have a huge impact on the look and feel of your home. Whether you're ready to add your home to the inventory of Baton Rouge homes for sale or just want to spruce up your space, check out these weekend-friendly home improvement projects. 

                  1. Overhaul Your Entrance
                    Your home's entrance is one of the first things guests or potential buyers see; make sure it gives off a fantastic first impression. If your deck is looking a little dingy, clean it using a pressure washer. Depending on the materials used to build your deck and its overall condition, you may want to stain or paint it. Once your deck looks its best, turn your attention to your home's entryway. Add a coat rack to ensure your guests have a place to put their outerwear. Make the entryway more welcoming with a coat of fresh paint and a new welcome mat. 
                  2. Replace the Flooring in One Room
                    If your home's flooring is showing its age, you don't have to replace it all at once. Instead, try to tackle one room each weekend. Look for a flooring option that's easy for DIYers to install, like peel and stick vinyl flooring or laminate plank flooring. Maybe you have fairly new carpets that are riddled with stains. Instead of replacing them, rent a steam cleaner, and clean them. You'll need to stay off them until they dry, but you can clean your house in sections over the weekend.
                  3. Upgrade Your Bathroom Vanity
                    A new vanity can give your bathroom a brand new look. It's possible to replace your existing bathroom vanity in a matter of hours. However, you do need to make sure the new vanity is compatible with your bathroom flooring. If you currently have a floor-mounted bathroom vanity, you may not have flooring underneath the vanity. You'll want to make sure you select another floor mounted vanity with the same dimensions. Free-standing vanities have flooring underneath them; you can replace a free-standing vanity with another free-standing unit, a floor-mounted piece, or a wall-mounted vanity.  
                  4. Revamp Your Closet
                    A gorgeous closet is a strong selling point. Start by getting rid of pieces that you no longer wear; a good rule of thumb is to get rid of any in-season items that you haven't worn in six months. Once you've gotten rid of pieces, you no longer wear, make sure that your closet has a superb organizational system. You can install a pre-designed closet organizer, or you may design your own with different shelving units, drawers, and closet rods. 
                  5. Set Up a Fantastic Outside Space
                    A charming outside space makes your home feel larger. Don't let a great deck or patio go to waste; instead, set up a space that's functional and aesthetically pleasing. Start by giving the area a thorough scrubbing. Then, add your deck furniture. A dining table with chairs is one option, or you can add a conversation set that includes chairs and end tables. Add an outdoor area rug to make the space feel more inviting. 

                  Need more advice on preparing your home to sale? Contact us today. 


                  New Orleans Greenhouses for Your Garden

                  Beginning of Spring

                  The official first day of Spring is March 19th, and we can't wait! Our REALTORS® love the warm weather and all of the opportunities it brings.

                  Are you ready to take advantage of the spring season and refresh your home's landscaping? If so, you'll want to head over to some of the area's best greenhouses to pick up supplies and maybe even get some inspiration. Below are a few of our favorites around the New Orleans area. 

                  1. The Plant Gallery: 9401 Airline Highway, New Orleans, LA 70118
                    You'll need to take some extra steps to ensure your house stands out from the rest! The Plant Gallery has everything you need to do just that. This family-owned establishment has been in the plant business since 1991. While they started in the French Quarter with just two employees, they now have a staff of 60 professionals and a 5,000-square-foot space with a gift center and greenhouses. Their garden center has everything you need to DIY your landscaping, including plants, accessories, pots, and outdoor fountains. They also offer landscaping services in case you prefer to leave this task to the pros. 
                  1. Ninth Ward Nursery: 2641 Deslonde St., New Orleans, LA, 70117
                    Want to create a fun, tropical look in your outdoor space? Check out Ninth Ward Nursery! They specialize in the bamboo and tropical plants you need to turn your yard into a relaxing oasis. Their nursery is open on the first Saturday of each month from 9 am until 5 pm and by appointment. You can also find them at pop-up plant sales and markets throughout the New Orleans area. Need a little help? They also offer residential landscaping and monthly plant maintenance. 
                  1. Perino's Home & Garden Center: 3100 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA 70002
                    With 65 years of experience, Perino's Home and Garden Center is well-known as one of the area's premier growers. They carry everything you need including flowers, plants, shrubs, and annuals. You'll also find all the landscape materials, outdoor decor, and furniture you need. Best of all, Perino's is located not far from some of the best Metairie homes for sale, so you can easily stop by while you're out that way.  
                  1. Banding's Nursery: 26300 Highway 190, Lacombe, LA 70445
                    If you're in the area checking out Lacombe homes for sale, you'll want to pay a visit to Banding's Nursery. This local, family-owned nursery has been serving the New Orleans area since 1960. They have a huge selection of plants, trees, and shrubs and are open seven days a week. You can head over and wander through the greenhouses, pre-order your plants, so they're pulled and ready when you arrive, or conveniently order online. They even offer free delivery for orders over $100. 
                  1. Rose Garden Center: 4005 Westbank Expressway, Marrero, LA 70072
                    Not far from some of the best Marrero homes for sale, Rose Garden Center carries everything you need to beautify your outdoor space. Here you'll find a wide selection of both ornamental and edible plants and plenty of garden supplies. It's also a pet store that carries a selection of freshwater fish, small animals, and select reptiles. 

                  If you're thinking about buying or selling a home in the New Orleans area, you're in luck! Contact us today to discuss your goals and get started. Search for New Orleans homes for sale on our website!


                  Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2020 - For Lafayette Homes

                  Remodeling in Lafayette

                  Remodeling key areas of your home can improve quality of life while you're there plus help maximize value when you sell. Our REALTORS® know that choosing the right project is crucial to getting the best financial outcome, which is why we're sharing a closer look at the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report for Lafayette homes.

                  Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2020 – For Lafayette Homes

                  The Right Projects to Maximize Your Investment

                  • Window Replacement – Wood or Vinyl
                    Just about everyone shopping for Lafayette homes for sale will be looking for energy efficiency and a home with good climate control. Replacing old windows with new wood or vinyl windows edges out a few other projects for the top ROI on our list.
                  • Minor Kitchen Remodel
                    When it comes to remodeling the kitchen, more isn't always better. A minor kitchen remodel will cost significantly less out of pocket, and ultimately allows you to recoup more cash than most room remodeling projects.
                  • Garage Door Replacement
                    You want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the property, and an old, worn down garage door can dampen their enthusiasm. Garage door replacement is a relatively low-cost project, with a strong return.
                  • Roofing Replacement – Asphalt Shingles
                    Most buyers will head for the hills if the roof of the home appears to be in rough shape, and fresh shingles go a long way toward making your roof look its best. For Lafayette homes, asphalt shingles offer a much better return than metal roofing.

                  Remodeling Projects with Solid Return on Investment

                  • Bathroom Remodel – Mid-range or Upscale
                    In Lafayette, upscale remodels of the bathroom, kitchen, or master suite offer better ROI than in many other cities. Whether you go mid-range or upscale, a bathroom remodel is often an excellent place to invest.
                  • Master Suite Addition
                    A master suite addition is the most expensive item on our list, but when done right, it can also add major value. Opting for mid-range over upscale will typically cut the cost in half, but both options should allow you to recoup a significant portion of your investment.
                  • Major Kitchen Remodel
                    While a minor kitchen remodel may offer the best bang for your buck, a major kitchen remodel still finishes very close behind. The cost will be significantly higher than a minor remodel, but getting the kitchen just right can be worth it.
                  • Deck Addition – Wood
                    Most people shopping for Lafayette homes will appreciate a well-maintained outdoor deck, and adding a wood deck is one project that won't break the bank. 
                  • Siding Replacement – Fiber-Cement
                    Curb appeal is a key ingredient in selling any home, and siding is the perfect place to start. Updating your home with fiber-cement siding is the most cost-efficient option, while vinyl siding finishes a close second.

                  Think Twice Before Undertaking These Remodeling Projects

                  • Grand Entrance/Entry Door Replacement
                    The entrance to your home is important for curb appeal, but a full remodel of that area doesn't offer a great return. Instead, try smaller projects.
                  • Deck Addition – Composite
                    When adding a deck to your home, choosing the right material is key. While wood decks are popular in Lafayette, decks made with composite materials have a significantly lower ROI due to the cost of materials.

                  When you're searching for the best ways to maximize the value of your home, you want a real estate team that you can trust. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout Lafayette.


                  Sellers: Make Your Home Smarter in 2020

                  Smart Home Features

                  The idea of smart home technology is no longer limited to the technologically-inclined or the uber-wealthy. Homeowners have embraced technology and up to 81% of homes are considered "smart." If you're interested in selling your home in 2020, here are the top smart home features that our real estate agents think you should install in order to appeal to buyers.

                  • Smart Security Systems
                    When it comes to smart home features, home security systems are at the top of a home's buyer's wish list. Everyone wants to feel safe and secure in their homes. Many buyers want to see the system in place before they make the purchase. The home security system integrates well with other home devices, including door locks, smart lights, and smart thermostats. Since the security system can connect to different devices, you can easily connect and access it on-the-go. Whether you need to lock your doors or view your security cameras, you can do anything from anywhere. Also, these systems can send alerts if suspicious movements are detected.
                  • Smart Thermostats
                    Many of these app-enabled smart home devices "learn" your family's daily habits when it comes to temperature regulations. Some smart thermostats use motion sensors to determine if you're at home and automatically adjust the temperature for you. This helps make your home more comfortable temperate wise and can help you save money on your electric bill. Also, thermostat settings can be adjusted with remote access as long as it's connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network.
                  • Smart Lighting Systems
                    Buyers are looking for better lighting systems. Smart lighting is changing how homeowners control lighting, improve security and conserve energy with home connectivity and simple voice commands. Installing LED lights is great, but what about being able to control all the lights in the home directly from your smartphone? For instance, it can be costly to leave lights on in several rooms when you're on vacation because you don't want anyone to know you're not around. Smart lighting systems allow you to switch the lights on and off in various rooms and at various times. In addition, they easily connect to other IoT devices, helping property owners create energy-efficient smart home environments.
                  • Smart Appliances
                    Homebuyers are not content with home appliances being simply energy-efficient. They want more. How about a smart fridge that lets you search for recipes online, create a grocery list, control the temperature, and even listen to music while you cook. Or an oven that allows you to download preprogrammed recipes so your food comes out perfect each time. You can even watch a movie or enjoy the pool while checking on your dinner directly from your smartphone.

                  With the added protection, ease of use, and convenience, you will not be disappointed when you add these smart home features before you put your house on the market. Contact us to learn more about our New Orleans homes for sale.


                  How to Declutter Before a Move

                  Declutter Before a Move

                  Like most people, you probably have stuff piled up around the house that you didn't even know you owned. Moving an overstuffed junk drawer or duplicate items you don't have use for doesn't make sense. 

                  Decluttering helps decrease the weight of the items you're moving, makes the process less stressful, and saves on moving costs. Our REALTORS® have six useful tips to keep moving day as stress-free and inexpensive as possible.

                  1. Start Early
                    Don't wait until moving day to decide what to pack and what to get rid of. It could take a couple of days to complete the decluttering process. So plan at least two weeks and spare a few hours every day to go through a different room or storage area in your home. By giving yourself enough time to go through all your stuff, you won't be tempted to throw everything in the boxes and be done with it.
                  2. Start Small
                    It can be disheartening to look at a house full of stuff you have to sort through. It can also be tempting to put it off and promise yourself you'll do it on moving day or even after you moved into the new place. This is why you need to start small. Start with a dresser, a closet, or a home office. Don't try to clear an entire room at once because it can be draining and might extinguish your motivation. 
                  3. Set Up Four Piles- Keep, Donate, Sell, Trash
                    Before you begin decluttering, have trash bags, markers, and a shredder ready to help with the process. Have four labeled boxes handy as you tackle one area after another. The boxes should be for items you want to keep, sell, donate, and throw away. Take out the trash immediately after the decluttering session. You can take pictures of things you wish to sell, list them online, or hold a garage sale. For the things you're going to keep, try to pack as much as you can.
                  4. Practice Letting Go
                    It is not always easy to know what to keep and what to let go of as you go about decluttering your house. As a general rule of thumb, throw it away if it's damaged. If you haven't worn some clothes for over a year, think about donating or selling them. When it comes to seasonal clothing, sort through all of them and evaluate what you should keep and what you should let go. Decluttering also offers an excellent opportunity to let go of duplicate items and gifts you'll never use. If you're a keeper, maybe you should find a "tosser" to help you make the not-so-easy decisions.
                  5. Check Expiration Dates
                    Go through your pantry and bathroom and throw out anything past its prime. Check for expiration dates or think to when you purchased a certain item. Things like spices can last for several years, but their potency doesn't last longer than six months or so. Use this time to toss cookbooks you haven't opened for years and any strange appliances you don't have use for.
                  6. Keep Going
                    Set aside time, at least every day or every weekend to declutter. And make it fun. Reward yourself after you're done with a weekend session. You'll be motivated to put in more effort and feel better prepared when moving day comes.

                  Are you looking for Lafayette homes for sale? Our team can help streamline the process. To learn more, contact us.


                  How to Improve Your Home's Scent before Showings

                  Improving Home's Scent

                  Our sense of smell is a powerful force! Smells can evoke many feelings and emotions either positive or negative. If you're thinking of adding your property to the local market of Lafayette homes for sale, it's important to ensure your home smells good as a critical component of staging it to sell. Our REALTORS® share some tips for making your home smell fresh, clean, and appealing to buyers.

                  • Do a Deep Cleaning
                    Cleaning your house from top to bottom is critical to ensure it looks its best, but it also helps get rid of stale, nasty odors. Make sure to wash down walls, especially in the kitchen, to get rid of grease and grime, which can make your home pretty smell stale and dirty. If you're short on time or hate to clean, hire professionals to get the job done right.
                  • Have Carpets and Curtains Professionally Cleaned
                    Steam-cleaning carpets, rugs, and drapes can help them look like new and eliminate odors you never even knew existed. Once your carpets are cleaned, take a few moments to sprinkle them with baking soda and vacuum right before a viewing or open house. Baking soda is also great for scrubbing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and other items. If you don't care for cleaning products with lots of fragrance, baking soda can eliminate tough odors while keeping perfumes to a minimum.
                  • Wash Pet Beds, Toys and Accessories
                    There's no getting around it—our furry friends can cause some stinky smells sometimes. Make sure to wash all pet bedding and blankets, clean the litterbox, and put items away or move them to more inconspicuous areas when showing your home. If possible, take pets to a friend or family member's home during an open house or showing.
                  • Use Natural Scents to Make Your Home Smell Good
                    Fake plug-in scents and heavily scented candles can leave buyers wondering what you're trying to cover up or even make them sneeze. If you want to add a pleasant aroma to your home, choose lighter scents like citrus, herbs, vanilla, and cedar. If you don't want to invest in a fancy diffuser, you can use essential oils with reeds that absorb the liquid and release the scent into the air. Simmering potpourri, herbs, or essential oils in a pot of water on the stove is an easy, affordable way to add a delightful olfactory ambiance to your home.
                  • Pick Plants with a Pleasant Aroma
                    Believe it or not, plants can clean the air and make your home smell better. Certain types of plants like scented geraniums, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, basil, gardenias, and orchids emit pleasant fragrances that can make your home smell flowery, earthy, or fresh. Not only that, staging your home with well-groomed plants can give it a bright, lively feel.

                  Want to learn more about how to prepare your home for sale? Whether you're in the market for a new home or selling the one you own, our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.


                  What You Need to Do Before Listing

                  Before Listing Figuring out which steps to take before putting your home on the market can be daunting. If you're unsure about how to prepare, our real estate agents can provide the guidance you need to get your home ready for listing. 

                  • Research the Value of Your Home
                    It's vital to do your homework to determine the value of your home. Check out listings of comparable New Orleans homes for sale in your neighborhood. Make sure you are comparing homes similar to yours in size, location, and features. Save this list of comparables and discuss them with your real estate agent.
                  • Find a Real Estate Agent
                    One of the best ways to find a good real estate agent is by word of mouth. Ask friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors if they've worked with someone they'd recommend. Interview a few agents and ask them about their experience selling homes in your area, the steps they'll take to sell your home, and how many homes they've sold. Don't be afraid to ask for references from former clients as well.
                  • Make Minor Repairs
                    Replacing hardware like knobs, drawer pulls, towel racks, light switches, and lighting fixtures is an easy and inexpensive way to make your home look updated. If any major repairs need to be done, talk with your real estate agent about the most effective way to take care of them.
                  • Paint
                    A fresh coat of paint throughout the house does wonders for its appeal. You don't have to do anything fancy—make sure you choose neutral colors like taupe, beige, or greige. Depending on the condition of the outside of your house, you may want to consider having it professionally painted.
                  • Declutter & Depersonalize
                    Clearing clutter and depersonalizing your home will make it more appealing to buyers, and you'll have less stuff to move when you're ready to go. A good rule of thumb is to donate, sell, or pitch items you haven't used or worn within the last year. Packing up family photos, books, knick-knacks, and other personal items makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize living there. 
                  • Clean
                    You'll be surprised at what a difference a deep cleaning can make when it comes to the look and smell of your home. Shampooing rugs and carpets helps get rid of stains and odors. Make sure to get windows and trim sparkling clean. If you don't have the time or desire to DIY, hire a professional cleaning company to come in and clean it for you.
                  • Stage Your Home
                    Staging your home can help it sell faster at a higher price. Take out any excess furniture and create cozy sitting areas in spaces like the living room. Remove all small appliances from the counters in the kitchen, take any magnets off the fridge, and accessorize with fresh, new tea towels. The same thing goes for the bathrooms—remove or hide away all toiletries and invest in new rugs and towels. And don't forget the outside— curb appeal is the first thing that draws potential buyers in. Make your yard, landscaping, and your home's exterior look neat and tidy. 

                  Are you ready to buy or sell your home in the New Orleans area? Contact us to get started.


                  Staging and Selling with Kids: Tips for Parents

                  Staging and Selling with Kids

                  Parents know that clean and kids can mix like oil and water. While it adds an extra hurdle to adding your house among the New Orleans homes for sale, it's entirely possible to sell and stage a home with kids -- and our REALTORS® are here to help.

                  Try these four kid-friendly tips for staging your home and getting your whole family on board for selling your home. 

                  1. Move Kid Things to Kid Rooms
                    Most potential buyers will want to see a living room full of potential, not a packed den with the playpen, tummy time mat, forts, and a train track. While buyers won't want these items front and center, a home is often a family purchase, so it's okay to have these items in the right place. A tasteful nursery or second bedroom with bunk beds still opens the door for new home buyers to plan and dream.
                  2. Pack up Unused Toys
                    You might not realize it, but you have too many toys in your home. That's why you need to sort and pack before you stage and show your home. Realistically, there is no way that you'll keep a full overload of toys neat and tidy for any length of time. Move larger unneeded items to storage. For example, that mini trampoline can probably go away for a few months, or the three-story dollhouse can be packed from the living room until your next place.

                    This is also an excellent opportunity to remove smaller toys that are no longer being used. Ask your child to help you pick ten favorites for right now, and box up the rest. While sorting, you can work towards donating items that you won't need at the next house, too, drastically reducing clutter both here and there.
                  3. Discuss Future Goals
                    If your child is at an age where they understand what moving means, let them get in on the action and making some decisions. Help your child embrace the changes by making things new and exciting. Ask your children to help choose a neutral color so the next kid in their room can take a turn at decorating. Also, discuss with them how they'll want their new room decorated. By empowering your child to help make new beginnings, you'll make it easier to remove overly personal items or decor and make your home purchase-ready.
                  4. Ask Other Adults for Help
                    A piece of advice that probably goes without saying is getting some extra adult support throughout the process. Mention to your friends and family your selling goals. Some might be able to pitch in with babysitting or offer storage space for toys. A few hours with a babysitter or a playdate is a great way to occupy your children while you work on cleaning before a showing or open house. 

                  Need more tips for staging and selling? Our real estate agents are ready to guide you on the next steps.  Contact us today!


                  7 Ways to Prepare for an Open House

                  Prep for Open House

                  Hosting an open house is a tried and trusted method for selling your home. However, you need to do more than put a sign out front. Before you host an open house, the following are seven steps our REALTORS® recommend to prepare your home for prospective buyers.

                  1. Clean Out the Clutter
                    Cleaning out clutter opens up the floorplan and makes the home feel more spacious. You will also want to remove valuables such as jewelry, heirlooms, and other items that you don't want to include in the sale. Removing items helps protect your possessions. Further, if prospective buyers don't see appliances or fixtures they won't ask to negotiate these as part of the sale.
                  2. Conduct a Thorough Cleaning
                    Pay to have the carpets professionally cleaned. Dirty, dingy carpets will turn away even the most motivated buyer. Clean every corner, window, cabinet, and other surfaces so that the home looks as new as possible. You will want to organize closets, cupboards, and pantries so they appear neat and tidy. 
                  3. Repair Damage
                    You will want to take care of any cosmetic damage before the open house. Fixing broken tiles, repairing holes in walls, sealing drafts, etc. can go a long way towards enticing a prospective buyer to make an offer. Painting is also advisable, but you will want to make sure to do this as early as possible so that the home doesn't smell like fresh paint during the open house. 
                  4. Make Arrangements for Your Pets
                    Not everyone is a pet person. Having your pets running around during an open house can be a huge distraction to potential buyers. Consider sending your dogs, cats, and other pets on a mini-vacation. Take them to a friend's house or take your pup to a dog park. When they're gone, make sure the home is free of pet odors, dander, and toys when prospective buyers arrive. 
                  5. Stage the Home
                    It is worth every penny to pay for a consultation with a professional home stager. Often, a few simple changes in furniture positioning, curtain choice, or lighting can create a fresh, modern look that appeals to the types of buyers you want to attract.  
                  6. Conduct a Final Spot-Check
                    The day before, your open house is a big day. You will want to make sure the clutter is gone, the curtains are open, and the smells removed. You will also want to bake the cookies, prepare the refreshments, and make sure that all the marketing materials are ready to go when prospective buyers knock on the door.    
                  7. Host a Broker and Agent Preview
                    Agents and brokers are eager to find the best properties for their clients. Hosting a preview allows them to contact their clients who have expressed a desire for a property that matches your home's description, features, and location.    

                  Contact us to discuss the strategies we use to sell Lafayette homes for sale. It's our pleasure to develop a plan that will help you sell your home effectively!   


                  8 Ways to Improve Your Home in the Winter

                  Winter Home Improvements

                  It's easy to nest inside during the winter, so while you're at it, take some steps to improve your home! Whether you have a small budget or a plethora of money to spend on a project, here are some ways you can improve your home this winter:

                  1. Install and use a programmable thermostat
                    A programmable thermostat can help make your home more energy-efficient and more comfortable. Program it to switch to a lower temperature while the family is at sleep or school or work and then raise the temperature before you get up or return home. 

                  2. Maintain your HVAC system
                    Change your furnace filter regularly to help it operate efficiently. Also, have your HVAC system checked out by a professional once a year and as soon as possible after noticing a problem.

                  3. Seal the leaks
                    Seal any leaks around your home that allow your heated air to escape outside and cold air to make it way inside. Caulk any gaps around windows and replace worn weather stripping around doors. If you don't already have storm windows and doors, having them installed can also help make your home more comfortable.

                  4. Fertilize your home's landscaping
                    A little time and effort now can help your landscaping look better in the spring. Before the weather gets too cold, spread some fertilizer for your trees, shrubs, and grass to help them stay nourished throughout winter.

                  5. Insulate your attic
                    Insulating your attic can help lower your energy bills while helping your home stay more comfortable over the winter. Even if you already have insulation, it may not be enough and may also have gaps and other problems. Inspect your insulation, and if necessary, replace it or add to it.

                  6. Clean out your closets and declutter
                    Winter is the perfect time to declutter since you're spending time indoors and will want to make room for new items you or your kids receive as holiday gifts. Go through your closets, cabinets, and drawers and throw out or donate what you no longer need or want. If you get a receipt for donations, you may be able to deduct the value of your items on next year's taxes.

                  7. Refinish your hardwood floors
                    Refinish your hardwood floors so they look their best when you entertain for the holidays. This also gives your floors added protection, which will come in handy as your floor traffic increases.

                  8. Paint your walls
                    Paint can have a big impact on your home's appearance for a relatively little expenditure of time and money. A fresh coat of paint, especially in a new color, can also help brighten your home during dreary winter months.

                  Contact us if you're looking for New Orleans homes for sale. Our REALTORS® can help you find a home you'll enjoy living in, no matter what the season!


                  Open House Checklist for Sellers

                  Open House Checklist

                  An open house is a perfect opportunity to showcase your home and make a good impression on potential buyers. Our real estate agents have hosted hundreds of open houses with clients and understand the pitfalls that can arise when preparing for the big event. This checklist can help you avoid common mistakes and allow you to stay competitive with others who are offering their Lafayette homes for sale.

                  Declutter and Organize

                  Getting rid of clutter and depersonalizing your home is a must for any open house. This process allows potential buyers to envision themselves in your home. Remove items like family photos, collectibles, and any pet beds or toys.

                  It's a good idea to leave pets with friends or family during an open house. Clean and organize closets and other storage spaces so potential buyers can get a good look.

                  Also, consider putting excess furniture in storage. It will make rooms appear bigger and give them a more refined look. Your real estate agent should be able to offer some staging tips before your open house. 

                  Do a Deep Cleaning

                  Whether you're a DIY type or prefer to hire a service, deep cleaning your home before an open house is vital. Make sure all carpets are cleaned, and hardwood and other surfaces shine. Baseboards, trim, ceiling fans and other hard-to-reach places should be free of dirt and dust. Wash the windows inside and out, and don't forget to tidy up the garage, yard, deck, and front entrance.

                  A good power washing and a fresh coat of paint on the front door can work wonders for curb appeal.

                  For the finishing touch after you clean, a little scent goes a long way. So avoid overdoing candles and air fresheners. Your home should smell naturally fresh.

                  Take Care of Maintenance and Repairs

                  Painting the inside of your home in neutral colors such as beige or gray is one of the most affordable ways to make your house more attractive. Patch and sand any holes in the walls or ceilings before painting. Another inexpensive way to make your home look updated is by replacing plate switches, drawer and cabinet pulls, and light fixtures. If any major work like roof repairs needs to be done, take care of it before putting your home on the market.  

                  Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

                  If you want your open house to be successful, it's essential to get the word out. There are several ways to do this, including old-school and online methods. Have your real estate agent create brochures highlighting the features of your home listing vital info like property taxes, school district, and acreage.

                  Your agent should also add the open house to your MLS listing, so it shows up on multiple real estate sites. Don't forget to post the listing on social media a day or two before the open house. Also, put an open house sign in the yard and at the end of your road to help people find your open house more easily. For eye-catching flair, tie some balloons on the signs the day of the open house.

                  Do you need help organizing the perfect open house? Our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.


                  How to Buy a House While Selling Your Current Home

                  How to Buy a HouseBuying a home is a huge decision. Selling a home is an equally important endeavor. Buying a home and selling a home at the same time? Now that's an impressive feat! It may sound overwhelming, but believe our REALTORS® when they say you can buy a new home while selling your current home. We've gathered our years of knowledge and experience with Lafayette homes for sale to help you buy a house while selling your existing home.

                  1. Ask For & Accept Help 
                    Before you list or make an offer, you probably already realize that dual real estate transactions will leave you with your hands full. The best first step you can make in this process is to request and accept assistance from a qualified REALTOR®. You don't want to be stuck with two mortgages, and you don't want to chance jeopardizing either sale. Enlist the help of a trusted REALTOR® who will go above and beyond to help you navigate these separate real estate transactions.
                  2. Decide Whether to Buy or Sell First
                    This decision is up to you. If you can reasonably afford the cost of two homes, then locking in your dream home before you sell your current home may be the right move. If you decide to sell your home first, you can negotiate with your buyer to allow you to rent back your former home until you close on your new home. This will enable you to complete the sale of your old home while still buying you time for finding and securing your new home. Alternatively, when you sell your home, you can delay the closing if the buyer agrees to give you a month or so to purchase a new home.
                  3. Prepare for Buying & Selling
                    Depending on which option you choose, you're now ready to either make an offer on a new home or list your current home. To reduce the gap time between the two, you should immediately prepare your home for buyer offers. Have the home inspected professionally and stage it appropriately so it's ready for the market and no surprises will pop up later during an inspection. Price your home reasonably and get ready to consider diverse offers. To prepare to buy a home, you should have your finances in order. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and identify what funds you'll use as the down payment.
                  4. Let Your REALTOR® Help You Facilitate Both Transactions 
                    As you venture further into the buying and selling process, you may be juggling a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and requests. Thankfully, an experienced REALTOR® can help you navigate each of these transactions, ensuring everything goes according to plan. They'll guide you through the process, step by step, communicating with all parties fluidly. Most importantly, they'll be there for you through thick and thin, resolving any hurdles and celebrating both successful sales with you!

                  Are you interested in selling your current home and purchasing one of the fabulous Lafayette homes for sale at the same time? Contact us today, and we'll help you accomplish all of your real estate goals!


                  6 Tips to Sell Your Vacant Home

                  Sell Vacant Home

                  Our REALTORS® have helped many people put Lafayette homes for sale on the market that would be vacant during the selling process. In many ways, it can be more convenient than the alternative – but there are some things that sellers should know.

                  In most cases, houses become vacant because the owner has already moved out. Sellers in this situation are highly motivated because they do not want to continue paying for associated bills. It's crucial not to let this translate into a lack of preparation or caution.

                  Let's face it: A vacant home is under more risk from burglary and vandalism than an occupied home. Still, there are steps that will both protect the property and make it appealing to buyers.

                  1. Stage the Home to Reflect an Occupied Space
                    When buyers show interest in a home, they need to be able to imagine themselves in the space – which means de-cluttering rooms and emptying closets. A completely empty house, however, is often more distressing than welcoming. Leave some basics like key furniture items and lighting. This is more "homey" and helps you showcase the potential of the rooms.
                  2. Let Your Neighbors and Law Enforcement Know
                    If you will be leaving a home unattended for extended periods of time, it's a great idea to let your local law enforcement know. That way, there'll be other eyes looking out for any suspicious activity around the home, especially at night. If you have strong relationships with your next-door neighbors, tell them as well for added vigilance.
                  3. If You Do Open Houses, Make Sure Space is Secure
                    Open houses are among the most powerful tools you have in selling any home. Unfortunately, thieves have been known to use these to case homes in the past. If you will be holding open houses, do not discuss the fact you have already moved out. You will be most secure if you have an active security system that can defend the house in off-hours.
                  4. Provide for a Sense of Activity Within the Space
                    Many of the tips you'd use when taking a long vacation also apply to a vacant home. For example, leaving some lights on is advisable – and all the better if they are timed so they reflect a pattern of activity inside the house. Security devices can be used that will simulate TV chatter. Do not let newspapers, catalogs, or mail accumulate while you are gone.
                  5. Get an Appraisal and Repair Estimates Early
                    Sometimes, prospective buyers will wonder if something is "wrong" with the house because you have moved out already. You can soothe their worries by providing them with a recent appraisal and inspection report. If an inspection uncovers any necessary repairs, also provide estimates for any of the work that you will not complete before closing day.
                  6. Focus on Curb Appeal
                    Whether a home is empty or full, curb appeal remains the all-important first impression. It is extra vital for vacant homes, as scraggly, overgrown lawns will tip off those with ill intentions. Keep your lawn in tip-top shape with weekly maintenance. Also be sure any other outdoor features, such as pathways, continue looking neat and tidy.

                  Having a vacant home to sell is no reason to change your plans. These simple tips can help you ensure that your sale will go off without a hitch. An experienced real estate agent will provide you with personalized advice that will make the whole process even easier.

                  Expert help from real estate pros like our team of REALTORS® accelerates time to sale and maximizes your earnings. Contact us to find out more today.

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